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Kendeng farmers blockade cement factory

Jakarta Post - February 11, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java About 250 farmers who are against the construction of a cement factory operated by PT Semen Indonesia in Gunem district in Kendeng, Central Java, blockaded the access road to the factory on Friday. As a consequence, workers could not enter the compound.

Joko Prianto, coordinator of the blockade, said they resorted to such action to push Semen Indonesia to stop construction as ordered through a Supreme Court decision and a Central Java governor decree issued on Jan. 16 by Ganjar Pranowo, which revoked the plant's environmental permit.

"When the permit was revoked by Supreme Court, activities at the factory should have stopped," Joko said. He said the farmers had reported the activities to the Central Java Police, saying they were illegal.

Kendeng farmers have fought against the construction of the factory for years, saying that it would compromise the quality of water source in the Kendeng karst mountain.

They argued that they only wanted to farm in peace and that they made a decent living growing crops. Semen Indonesia has argued that the factory would create jobs and an improved local economy, which was much needed by Kendeng residents. The argument has been supported by several other residents.

Semen Indonesia corporate secretary Agung Wiharto said his company had stopped construction following the governor's instruction.

"We have laid off our project head and 3,000 workers since Jan. 18. But we keep 400 workers to maintain and guard our asset," Agung said.
He said construction had reached 98.75 percent. "We have to bear losses too because we have to keep paying the outsourced construction company," he said. "We have obeyed the law," he said.

Sujono, an anti-factory farmer, said that when they blockaded the road, residents who supported the factory also held a rally against their move.

The farmers' legal counselor from the Semarang Legal Aid Institute (LBH Semarang), Eti Oktaviani, said all activities should be halted, otherwise Semen Indonesia would be in violation of a 2009 law on environmental protection.

The Supreme Court on Oct. 5 last year issued a ruling in a case review against a gubernatorial decree on the environmental permit for PT Semen Gresik, the former name of Semen Indonesia. The ruling ordered the Central Java governor to revoke the environmental permit.

Consequently, Eti said, all permits issued on the basis of the environmental permit should be null and void too, including the construction and operational permits. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/02/11/kendeng-farmers-blockade-cement-factory.html.

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