JATAM : Regional Election Triggers Mining Permits Issuance in Indonesia

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Photo: greeners.co/Dewi Purningsih

Jakarta (Greeners) – Approaching simultaneously regional elections, — 17 provinces, 39 cities, and 115 districts –, this year, activist on Wednesday (14/3) slammed the democratic process will worsen Indonesia’s social ecological condition as the moment will be used to encourage more permits for mining and plantation.

“People know what’s going on in the field, fishermen couldn’t go fishing in the sea because of ships and mining, farmers couldn’t go to farm because their water resources polluted by coal mining, people couldn’t get clean water because of karst mining and so on. So, we’re looking out the political aspect destroying natural landscapes,” said Merah Johansyah, coordinator of Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), in Jakarta, encouraging for mining issues to be discussed in the political platform.

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Johansyah cited Dairi district of North Sumatra as hill areas prone to landslides and earthquakes, yet, at least 36 mining concessions granted for 23.37 percent of the area.

“Meanwhile, Dairi district is known for its Sidakalang coffee, the icon of the regional and agriculture has contributed more to local economic revenue compare to mining sector,” he said. “Gross Domestic Product for mining sector was only 0.09 percent, meanwhile agriculture contributed 59 percent.”

Based on Jatam data, there are 170 permits in the process for mining business permit (IUP), — one in Riau, three in South Sumatra, three in Lampung, one in West Kalimantan, 34 in West Java, 120 in Central Java, three in East Nusa Tenggara, four in Southeast Sulawesi and one in Papua –.

Furthermore, Johansyah said that extension for permits for minerals or coal has at least five years expiration or one year before expired. “It means that if you allow this then it is legal violation and could potentially be source of funding for candidates in the political year,” he said.

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The energy and mineral resources ministerial regulation issued in 2018 on mineral and coal mining permits, he added, had make it easier to determine mining areas, not transparent mining business permits, shortened bidding announcement to one month to accommodate investment, and less than 500 hectares of mining areas opened for foreign investors from previously more than 5,000 hectares.

“New regulations to facilitate these permits have become the method to control natural resources for sale and fund their political agenda. There shouldn’t be any new permits issuance in political year in all regional as this could potentially be the commodity for regional election funding,” he said.

There has been a long list of regional leaders involved in corruption cases. Based on Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), there are 242 heads of regional administration announced as corruption suspects between 2010 – 2018. In January-February 2018, there were already eight heads of administration been investigated by Anti Corruption Commission, with five of them are running for 2018 regional election.

Reports by Dewi Purningsih