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Kendeng farmers disappointed with new cement factory permit

Jakarta Post - December 10, 2016

Suherdjoko, Semarang After four days of walking approximately 150 kilometers from Rembang to Semarang in Central Java, Kendeng mountain farmers ended their journey in disappointment to find that Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo had issued a new environment permit for a cement factory in Rembang.

The Supreme Court, in an October decision, has ordered a revocation of the old permit and about 300 farmers did the long march to pressure Ganjar to revoke it. However, apparently the governor revoked the old one and issued a new on on Nov. 9. The farmers learned about the new permit on Friday, on the last day of their march, when they met with Central Java top official, Siswolaksono. Siswolaksono said Ganjar could meet them because he was in Riau, but he told the farmers that Ganjar had signed a new permit last month.

"We're disappointed. A new permit has been signed to allow [state-owned cement producer] PT Semen Indonesia to mine [in Kendeng mountain]," community leader Gunretno said. Gunretno said he would discuss their response with the other farmers. "We have to be careful about this."

The farmers have fought against the cement factory in the Karst mountain area for almost three years, arguing that the factory would reduce the supply of water for their agriculture. The farmers have said they want to farm in peace and they do not need the factory because their agricultural lands have provided sufficient prosperity for them.

In April, several women from the Kendeng mountain area decided to cement their feet into a box in front of the presidential palace in protest of the factory. The images of the women with their feet in the box have been an iconic image of farmer resistance in Indonesia.

The factory is almost complete and the residents living around the factory have split into two camps, those who are for the factory and those against. The pro camp says the factory has given them benefits, like employment for 1,200 construction laborers.

Semen Indonesia has denied that their factory would damage the environment. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/12/10/kendeng-farmers-disappointed-with-new-cement-factory-permit.html.

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