Indonesia: People of Batang Ask Jokowi to Fulfill his Promise to Put Food Sovereignty before Coal Energy

Press Release

Jakarta, 14 April 2015 – The Batang coal power plant megaproject has used illegal and repressive measures against citizens of Ujungnegoro, Karanggeng, Ponowareng, Wonokerso. The people of Batang are asking Jokowi to fulfill his promise to put food sovereignty before coal.

Proponents of the plant continue to intimidate and harass landowners who refuse to sell their land for the project development plan. Citizens’ farms are being destroyed by the companies involved in the power plant development. Moreover, the community can no longer access its water supplies as before. A new challenge has also arisen: access to the farmers’ land has also been harmed by an embankment of more than three meters. Residents say this last action from the coal mega project will result in droughts on their land, and possibly in crop failures. Some heavy equipment is already at the scene, guarded by armed men.

“The Batang coal power plant proponents’ approaches are similar to what we saw in several older coal fired power plant projects, like in Cirebon and Cilacap,” said Arif Fiyanto, Climate and Energy Campaign Team Leader, Greenpeace Indonesia. “People should not be intimidated like this. We need the rule of law in our contry. What the people are doing is just to fight for their rights and their survival,” he added.

The Batang mega coal project has created many problems in the proposed construction area already. From intimidation to human rights abuses, from criminalizing peaceful protesters to forced or fraudulent land acquisitions, this project has been rife with violations.

The project to build the largest power plant in Southeast Asia has yet to start construction – with questions remaining regarding the EIA, and local residents still refusing to sell their land. Over the past 4 years, the residents who are members of the Paguyuban UKPWR (Ujungnegoro, Karanggeng, Ponowareng, Wonokerso) repeatedly rejected plans to build a power plant in Batang. Community members have expressed their determination to refuse the plant in almost every forum: with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Economic Affairs, National Human Rights Commission, local authorities, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and even to set out to meet investors in Japan.

Currently, approximately 10% of the 226 acres of land needed for the power plant are still retained by the owners, leaving the power plant proponents grappling with the unresolved issue of land acquisition. The landowners have refused to sell their land because they do not want to lose their livelihoods, farms, and fisheries if the plant is built. The proposed area for the Batang coal power plant sits on top of lush rice fields and a very productive fishing area. In addition, the coastal area of Ujungnegoro-Roban is declared as a regional marine conservation area based on Government Regulation No. 26/2008. According to Provincial Regulation of Central Java Province No. 6/2010 on spatial planning, part of the project site would infringe on the marine protected area.

“I was imprisoned for seven months for opposing the construction of the Batang coal power plant, and refusing to sell my land to PT. BPI. I was in prison from May to December 2014, and in prison, I asked my whole family to choose Jokowi in the presidential election, because I believed in his promises in the presidential campaign. I thought that he would listen to the voice of the people who reject the Batang coal power plant, but today it seems Jokowi prefers investors rather than the people. However, I still hope President Jokowi will keep his promise and listen to the voice of the people” said Mr. Cayadi, a landowner from Karanggeneng Village. “We call on the president to save us now.”

 

Contact:

Fiyanto Arif , Head of Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia, 08111805373 Rahma Shofiana , Media Campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia, 08111461674