Indonesia: President Jokowi orders pause to cement projects

Ina Parlina The Jakarta Post 3 Aug 16;

Not gonna take it: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo receives a group of women, known as Kartini Kendeng, and other male protesters at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.(Courtesy of State Palace)

The people of the Kendeng Mountains in the northern part of Central Java can now breathe a temporary sigh of relief following an order from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that further environmental impact analyses would be needed before cement factory operations and mining could start in the area.

Following his meeting with the Kendeng women, who are known in the media as the Kartini of Kendeng and grabbed headlines for planting their feet into cement pulp to protest the construction of cement factories in their area, Jokowi said that the analyses are to ensure that the construction of cement factories in the karst topographical region would not damage the environment.

The residents of Kendeng have been fighting for years to stop the development of the factories they believed would threaten their livelihoods and their sources of water. Some companies, including state-owned PT Semen Indonesia, are expected to open factories in the area soon. Construction of PT Semen’s factory is 95 percent complete.

On Tuesday, Jokowi Widodo ordered relevant ministries to start the study, known as a strategic environmental assessment (KLHS), an environmental assessment that regional administrations have to carry out before issuing permits for land or forest management, as stipulated in the 2009 law on environmental management and protection.

With Jokowi’s order, any future mining activities in the areas can only be conducted after the environmental study yields its final results, although construction of factories in the area can continue.

The President has tasked Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki to lead the study that also involves a number of ministries, including the Environment and Forestry Ministry, and local administrations in the area.

“Probably the study will wrap up after one year,” said Teten, who accompanied Jokowi during the meeting and has previously engaged in a meeting with the Kendeng people.

“The result of the study will become a reference for us all, whether the local administrations, the central government, investors, or the locals,” Teten added.

Both Jokowi and the Kendeng farmers, according to Teten, engaged in a discussion in the Javanese language during the meeting.

Jokowi also urged Semen Indonesia to start conducting comprehensive dialogues with the Kendeng people and the local administrations.

Responding to Jokowi’s decision, representatives from the Mt. Kendeng Society Network (JMPPK) said that people from the area to be affected by the cement plants, people in Rembang, Pati and Grobogan, could now play a larger role deciding the fate of the mining activities in the karst region.

“The local residents are ready to engage in dialogue [with all relevant parties],” said one of the Kendeng farmers, Gunretno.

Gunretno said that the Kendeng people had never been consulted regarding the plan to open cement factories in the area.

Semen Indonesia corporate secretary Agung Wiharto said his firm would wait for official notification from the government before making any decision related to the Kendeng issue. The company plans to conduct trial operations in October this year before commercial production starts next year.

Other cement firms such as PT Sahabat Mulia Sakti, a subsidiary of the big cement company PT Indocement, PT Vanda Prima Listri and PT Imasco Tambang have announced plans to build cement plants in Pati, Grobogan and Blora.

In November 2015, Semarang State Administrative Court (PTUN) annulled the plans to construct a cement plant in Pati as they violated the regional regulation on spatial planning. However, other development plans are still being processed.

Jokowi Meets Cement Factory Protesters, Implements Strategic Environmental Assessment
Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 3 Aug 16;

Jakarta. Months after an unusual two-day demonstration against a planned cement factory construction at the State Palace, Jakarta, several female protesters and representatives finally met President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to discuss the future of their Mount Kendeng homes in Rembang district, Central Java, on Tuesday (02/08).

In April, nine brave women encased their feet in cement blocks and were determined to meet the president since. The women were famously dubbed as kartini Kendeng, (women from Kendeng). Last week, the women continued to protest against the cement plant construction by setting up a makeshift tent outside the State Palace in Jakarta.

Jokowi met 17 representatives from Kendeng, along with an academic from Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB), Dr. Soeryo Adiwibowo, at the State Palace.

Although the discussion did not lead to a permanent halt of the construction of the cement plant in Kendeng, Jokowi finalized a decision to perform a strategic environment assessment (SEA) in the Mount Kendeng area to facilitate the integration of environmental issues and ecological sustainability.

The implementation of the SEA will then be coordinated by the Presidential Staff Office, where the Ministry of Environment and Forestry will take part as the committee head.

During the assessment process, targeted to be sorted in a year, the government has promised that all mining permits will be suspended.

According to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the government has also committed to engage in a multi-party discussion throughout the entire assessment process.

“We know that the decision does not cancel the mining permit and stop the construction, but with the [strategic environment] assessment, we are convinced that the Mount Kendeng area will not be destroyed only for the sake of a cement plant construction or for any other extractive industries,” LBH said in a statement on Wednesday.

The people of Kendeng have stated they will continue to fight to conserve their homes and environment.

Government urged to issue regulation on karst ecology
The Jakarta Post 6 Aug 16;

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) urged the government on Friday to issue a government regulation on karst ecology to ensure the preservation of karst areas.

“The regulation should be a legal 'umbrella' for karst areas and for utilization of karst resources for common interests without violating human rights,” Komnas HAM commissioner Muhammad Nurkhoiron said, adding that the government started consulting the commission about the regulation in 2015.

Komnas HAM recorded that around 8 percent of 1.9 million kilometers of Indonesia’s land was karst terrain, and social conflict often occurred over developing and utilizing karst regions and resources due to a lack of transparency between companies and local people about the utilization of such regions, he added.

As an example, the people of the Mount Kendeng area in the northern part of Central Java have been fighting for years to stop the development of cement factories they believe would threaten their livelihoods and their sources of water.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered a postponement in the development of the factories on Tuesday and an evaluation carried out.

Komnas HAM staff member Mimin Dwi Hartono noted that an energy and mineral resources ministerial decree issued in 2011 on karst regions did not stipulate the utilization and preservation of such areas. Therefore, it is believed that the issuance of a government regulation would minimize conflict between local people and enterprises. (wnd/bbn)

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