The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Bali chapter has indicated serious human rights andenvironmental violations related to the construction of the coal-fired electricity power plant (PLTU) in Celukan Bawang, Buleleng regency in north Bali.
I Wayan Suardana, popularly known as Gendo, has insisted that Buleleng Regent Putu Agus Suradnyana temporarily halt the ongoing construction of the power plant and has asked the government to provide compensation to the affected residents of Celukan Bawang.
Walhi and a number of non-profit organizations and environmental and student activists visited the construction site on Sunday morning and discovered negative environmental impacts caused by the construction project.
“It would be wise for the regent to resolve possible social and environmental impacts before giving approval for the PLTU construction,” explained Gendo.
People living within a 30-meter radius of the 40-hectare construction site might be subject to hazardous environmental impacts, including air, noise and chemical-based pollution. The massive and continuing tremors resulting from construction activities have certainly endangered the life of residents living in the area.
“I still feel the tremors in areas 300 meters away from the main construction site,” he explained.
Problems, he said, had already existed long before the construction started.
“The environmental impact analysis (Amdal) for PLTU Celukan Bawan still has big questions. There are many basic problems that have not been solved yet,” said Gendo.
Prior to the construction of the power plant, numerous problems emerged, including unfair land acquisition and the changing of the environmental impact analysis for the project being carried out by PT General Energy Bali and China Huadian Engineering Corporation. The latter company also faced immigration problems for their overseas workers, who had incomplete immigration documentation.
Buleleng legislators found that the investors had only employed a very few local workers (around 10 percent of the workforce), while the remainder were foreigners or people from outside Bali.
Earlier reports also revealed that the local people had frequently asked the investors to pay for the land they had acquired. Compensation for around 25 hectares of the 40-hectare construction site had not yet been paid to the original landowners.
Previously the Buleleng regent had promised to stop the project, pending the comprehensive results of the project’s revised environmental impact analysis, now being undertaken by a team of environmentalists from Udayana University in Denpasar.
According to Sudiana Mahendra, a professor of the environment and chairman of the University’s Environmental Studies, the new assessment was needed as the project’s capacity to generate electricity had been increased from 720 Megawatts to 980 MW.
Mahendra said that the capacity increase would have an impact on emissions, noise and air pollution.
The companies’ plan to develop a cargo port near the PLTU and an open storage facility for coal, which would also result in dangerous environmental and health problems for local residents.
“The team would need more time to comprehensively assess the possible impacts on the environment and the people,” Mahendra said.
The regent added that it would be impossible for a PLTU to have zero environmental impact.
“Buleleng administration will summon the power plant’s investors and contractors to provide detailed information on their project before I can sign the agreement,” the regent earlier confirmed.
Gendo still has hopes of the new Buleleng regent.
“The project already started before the new regent was elected. So I am hopeful that the new regent will pay more attention to the tremendous environmental and human rights problems posed by this project,” he said.
by Alit Kertaraharja on 2013-01-14