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Jakarta Post

Govt urged to halt dam filling over mounting dissent

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Sat, July 4, 2015   /  11:42 am

A coalition of NGOs has urged the government to postpone the filling of the Jatigede dam in Sumedang regency, West Java, slated to begin next month, until they resolve thousands of public complaints submitted by local residents who are struggling with the social impacts of the reservoir project.

Referring to the latest report from the West Java Development Finance Comptroller, the advocacy team of the Alliance of Jatigede People said that the agency'€™s verification team had received 12,119 complaints from local people voicing concern about the social impacts of the dam'€™s development.

'€œThe agency, however, has so far failed to settle any of the complaints,'€ advocacy team member Rizky Ramdani said recently.

Rizky said the complaints fell into six categories, with 5,687 complaints regarding errors in land measurement topping the list. The second most common issue, raised in 3,646 complaints, was a lack of any compensation payment, followed by 2,024 complaints about wrongly classifified assets in the compensation process.

Bandung Legal Aid Institute director Arip Yogiawan, who is also a member the alliance'€™s advocacy team, has also requested that the government respect legal efforts made by residents to protest against the government'€™s plan to begin the filling process of the Jatigede dam on Aug. 1.

Residents impacted by the reservoir project, he said, had recently filed for a judicial review with the Constitutional Court in relation to Presidential Regulation No. 1/2015 on the social impacts of the dam'€™s construction.

'€œThe petition [for judicial review] has been registered. The government must wait until that legal process is complete before commencing the dam inundation process,'€ said Arip.

The Jatigede dam forms part of the government'€™s development priority plan and is considered crucial to ensuring Indonesia'€™s food security.

The dam, set to be the country'€™s second-largest, is being built on 4,891 hectares of land covering 26 subdistricts over five districts of West Java. It will have a capacity of 979 million cubic meters of water for the irrigation of around 90,000 hectares of rice fields in Sumedang, Indramayu and Cirebon regencies.

Last month, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry'€™s director general for water resources, Mudjiadi, said the government had allocated Rp 741 billion (US$55.6 million) in total compensation for around 11,000 families living in the dam area.

Despite the ministry'€™s claim, the Jatibungur subdistrict administration in Darmaraja district, Sumedang, revealed that it had gathered 726 unresolved public complaints regarding the dam'€™s construction.

Subdistrict head Sahya Sukarya Saputra said that most of the complaints were related to errors in land measurement, which would have an impact on the amount of compensation received by residents.

Separately, Sumedang regency administration official Denny Tanrus, who is responsible for advocating for residents impacted by the project, claimed that local administrations were only in charge of registering and verifying the eligibility of residents to receive compensation payments.

'€œIf there are any complaint [regarding compensation payments], it is Public Works and Public Housing Ministry that will follow them up,'€ he said.

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