Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Six years on, and still fighting Lapindo

Recently, 3000 victims of the mud volcano created by the Lapindo company's drilling operations, whose homes were in the affected area, once again demonstrated their feelings outside the East Java Governor's office in Surabaya. They were asking the provincial government to lend money to PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya so the company would be able to pay the compensation money it owed. The demonstrators came from places inside the designated affected zone, for example Renokenongo, Siring, Jatirejo and Glagah Arum villages in Porong district, and Kedungbendo and Ketapang in Tanggulangin District.

They Fight for the Forest

The Iban Dayaks from Semunying had always lived simply alongside their natural environment. Then in 2005 an oil palm plantation company appeared, wanting to take over the ancestral forest that had been the backbone of people's livelihoods for generations.

One year previously the company had obtained permission from the regency government for a 20,000 hectare plantation in Jagoi Babang district. Included in the permit area were 1,420 hectares of land for which the Iban Dayaks were the customary landowners. At first, PT Ledo Lestari, a subsidiary company of Duta Palma Nusantara Group, only built a road which passed close to the ancestral forest. But as time passed, they continued to take more of the land, taking space from the people without permission and eventually clearing their ancestral forest.

Anti-Mine Awareness in East Nusa Tenggara

In the last five years the East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government has taken a very accomodating attitude to mining development. Many mining permissions have been issued by the provincial and regency governments, for minerals such as iron sand, gold, iron ore, uranium, copper etc. Since entering the era of regional autonomy, NTT is increasingly tormented by the mining industry.

The development of the mining industry in East Nusa Tenggara is indeed astonishing. Since 2007, extractive industries have commenced activities in all parts of the island chain. The number of mining claims submitted to Kupang Regency alone stretches to 80 companies, most of which are already operational. In South Central Timor Regency 176 claims have been submitted, in North Central Timor 139 and in Belu Regency, 89 mining companies are operational. Meanwhile there are also the mines which have already been open for a long time, such as the gold mines in East Sumba, Central Sumba, Lembata, Manggarai Barat, Alor and East Flores, or the iron sand mining in East Manggarai, Sikka and Lembata. Several of these mines are even located in conservation forest.