Jakarta, April 27 2021 — A day after the 2021 National Disaster Readiness Day, the #BersihkanIndonesia (Clean Indonesia) movement alongside JATAM and Trend Asia released the report, “Disaster by Invitation: An Early Portrait of Extractive-Dirty Energy Investment and Public Safety in Indonesia’s Disaster-Prone Areas.” This report discovered that hundreds of extractive industry projects are built in high-risk areas prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and floods.

Throughout Indonesia, there are 131 mining permit concessions located in high-risk earthquake-prone areas, 2,104 mining concessions in high-risk flood-prone areas, and 744 mining concessions in high-risk landslide-prone areas. Meanwhile, there are 57 operational coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 8,887 MW, as well as 31 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 6,950 MW in various stages of development, that are located in high-risk, earthquake-prone areas. This does not include coal-fired power plants that are in flood- and landslide-prone areas.

“In our report, we also discuss conflicts of interest between the extractive industry oligarchy within the government. These people with positions of power are who create and push for various project-based policies that are pro-extractive industry that worsen the risk of disaster,” said Ahmad Ashov Birry, Program Director of Trend Asia.

Merah Johansyah, Coordinator of JATAM Nasional also stated several other key findings, namely an increase in the rate of vulnerability to disaster in Indonesia, because existing ecological infrastructure has been destroyed by the extractive industry. This ecological infrastructure naturally serves to protect against the threat of disaster, such as the ecological function of the Tumpang Pitu and Salakan mountains in South Banyuwangi as natural fortresses, as well as their caves being evacuation sites for residents during the 1994 tsunami. Now, both of these mountains are damaged and threatened by the gold mining operations of PT Bumi Suksesindo and PT Damai Suksesindo.”

“Impacted residents are made even more vulnerable. However, they are forbidden to oppose the destruction caused by the extractive industry in their area. Their room for participation has been closed, and there is no public right to refuse and veto,” he said.

Merah adds that public response has been met with violence. Data from JATAM Nasional shows that from 2014–2020, there have been 269 victims of criminalization through the use of regulations and legal instruments issued by the government, and not just through the Mining Law; fisherfolk of Kodingareng that oppose the Makassar New Port have been criminalized with the Currency Law because they tore up envelopes filled with cash handed to them by the corporation as a bribe for residents to accept the project.

Furthermore, he explains, apart from an instrument of criminalization, regulations such as the Mining Law and the Job Creation Omnibus Law also invite disaster itself. This is reflected in, firstly, the flexibility of changes in spatial governance that ease the inflow of extractive investment in disaster-prone areas; secondly, the guarantee of automatic extension for large-scale mining contract, eliminating any chance to correct the allocation of concessions located within high-risk disaster-prone areas; and thirdly, the centralization of authority as well as the ease of National Strategic Projects (PSN) that subverts regional spaces and places the assessment of regional disaster risk under the sole interests of the central government and investors.

This occurs in Wadas, where the refusal of residents and the threat of mining within a high-risk landslide-prone area has been dismissed because the planned development of the andesite mine quarry for the Bener Dam has been designated as a National Strategic Project.

“We are fully aware that this project will invite disaster. Therefore, we oppose it,” said Mukti, a resident of Wadas.

The same situation occurs in the development of the Teluk Sepang coal-fired power plant in Bengkulu that continues, even though it had been designated as a high-risk disaster-prone area by the local Board for Disaster Management. There is also the Panau coal-fired power plant in Palu that had collapsed after being struck by a tsunami in 2018, yet was forced to be rebuilt.

“For 11 years we have suffered since the construction of the Panau coal-fired power plant. Now, after the plant collapsed due to the tsunami, we finally can live in peace. We oppose the reconstruction of the Panau coal-fired power plant,” said Arzad Hasan, a resident that is impacted by the Panau power plant in Palu.

The annual commemoration of disaster readiness is a ritual in futility if there are no steps made by the government as the true epicenter of disaster through its spatial allocations and permits. President Jokowi, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and related government bodies such as the National Board for Disaster Management and the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency, must revoke laws and regulations that invite disaster, such as the Mining Law and the Job Creation Law.

Related links:

– The “Disaster by Invitation” report and its attachments can be downloaded through: https://s.id/LaporanBencana

Media Contact:

Ahmad Ashov Birry, Program Director, Trend Asia, +62 811-1757-246

Merah Johansyah, Coordinator, JATAM Nasional, +62 813-4788-2228

Arzad Hasan, Head of Revolusi Hijau Panau, +62 853-3356-7816

Sarah – Yayasan Diakonia Pelangi Kasih, Dairi, +62 812-6903-0128