How Balik tribe women and men experience loss, suffering and multiple damages due to Indonesia’s New Capital Megaproject

Behind the major waterscape engineering projects in East Kalimantan and North Kalimantan, part of the mega project to relocate Indonesia’s New Capital City, packaged as a “green” and “sustainable” project, through the infrastructure development of the Sepaku-Semoi Dam, Intake and Sepaku River flood control project, the threats and destructive power experienced by the women and men of the Balik tribe are revealed. Colonization and oppression layered their social history, until how they were sacrificed for the sake of the project claimed as President Jokowi’s “Legacy”.

This research book describes how the river landscape that has historical, social and economic ties with the community was taken away. Dozens of Balik community families lost access to the river. They have difficulty getting water to fulfill their daily needs. Water that was once free from the river now has to be bought or, even worse, depends on water distribution rations.

The book also reveals community testimonies about nine modes of land grabbing for Intake and dam projects. Starting from the manipulation of signatures on the attendance list of community meetings into signatures of approval of what was decided at the meeting; decisions and actions to install land boundary markers and measure residents’ land without permission; Inadequate financial compensation; Destruction of residents’ plants and crops that are not taken into account in compensation; Coercion to agree on compensation terms with the opening of bank accounts; Coercion of land tenure with the promise of relocation of settlements; Threats for those who refuse to surrender land to be brought to court; Pitting fellow residents through engineering meetings between residents; Detention of original land ownership proof letters after land acquisition transactions.

It is not only indigenous people who are burdened by the impacts of the project, but also transmigrant communities and other migrants, whose settlements are targeted for land acquisition for the project. The attachment to the water sources and rivers of the people subjected to the project, as well as their sources of livelihood, is also disrupted. The collective memories, the inner struggles and long struggles, the joys and sorrows of building a life from outside Kalimantan to the land of Sepaku, clearing forests and cultivating the land, will become mere memories.

In the last four years, state officials have produced at least 16 regulations or rules to legitimize IKN, ranging from PP, Perpres, Authority Regulations to Pergub and other regional head regulations. In addition to tax reduction facilities, the extension of HGB for twice 80 years and HGU for 95 years, state officials also opened up employment opportunities for foreign workers. The IKN Law (Law No.3 2022) was passed unanimously by the Indonesian Parliament on January 18, 2022, to ensure a smooth financial flow for this megaproject.

It also revealed several modes of coercion in land acquisition, including maladministration, as well as violations of people’s civil rights to land, due to the discontinuation of land affairs services by the government, including land certificate application services and village registration processes.

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Indonesia New Capital Report "Nyapu"

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