• Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Farmers Turn Down Power Plants Project

sustainability, listrik, Jokowi, pembebasan lahan

Many people are questioning President Jokowi ability to maintain infrastructure projects stability in terms of land acquisition. It is because energy issues is one of the top priority when he officially elected as the head of state. Before this, a big coal processing project in Java stalled. Batang local authorities in Central Java hoped that the government won this case, so this power plants construction project could be started on early next year.

The supreme court will decide whether the Indonesian government can speed up land acquisition owned by the local farmers or not. It is associated to local’s refusal to power plants construction that involves land owners. A number of parties are questioning how government’s clarity to handle infrastructure projects. Formerly, a coal station construction project worth 4 billion US dollars on Java island is still ongoing. This project scheduled to begin in 2012, but it is restrained because the local community has refused to sell their land to the government. The land acquisition problem is one issue which is still difficult to handle in Indonesia.

Indonesia was one of the largest producer for coal commodity. Unfortunately, the electricity consumption per capita is smaller than North Korea according to US Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook data. Dilemma happened when President Joko Widodo had to choose between infrastructure projects development or replacing farmland to modern construction of power plants. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said that a trial will be completed in the end of this year. This project, according to him, is a very important model project.

Some farmers refused to leave their land “whatever happens”. About 48 land owners insist to keep their land. “We will be staying. We do not want this project,” said Untung, one of the farmers.

The power plants project will be capable to produce 2,000 megawatts while the project is built on agricultural land and industry area that does not depend on the need for electricity. While in most parts of Indonesia needs larger electrical power. It is regularly blackout which brings destruction to the industry and the locals. Therefore the government is still planning to enlarge an electricity supply to 87% this year and 97% in 2019. The percentage is of 100% in neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.

Government is still giving signals to local investors that this is a serious project and the government put a lot to it, also the first big scale project under 2005 government regulation related to Government Regulation in 2012 for Land Procurement. Currently government had a short time to talk the price with the local land owners and resolve the land settlement.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Sofyan Djalil said, it is estimated that government required a 500 billion US dollar for infrastructure sector while the government only been able to fund 30% of the budget. Infrastructure economist Jhon Cheong-Holdway indicated that this is a momentous decision for Indonesia to get bigger benefits.

Land acquisition in Batang indicates that Indonesia is developing to modern economy direction that completely different to what the origin has as a history of a thousands of island for centuries, which is very much dependent on agriculture and natural resources. In countries that rich in natural resources, cases like land acquisition are issues that often can be found. Jokowi still needs to increase the state electricity power plants to largely increase the source of energy used by the state.

Grace Eldora

Grace Eldora Sinaga is a journalistic practitioner, graduated from Faculty of Communication Study Majoring Journalism, Unpad. She loves to learn Asian cultures and photography. She can be contacted at gracel@buminawa.com or twitter @glaceldo.