The remaining residents of Renokenongo village, partly devastated by the mudflow two years ago, were knocking down their homes and salvaging their belongings as hot mud and water began inundating the village after a section of the giant encircling dike collapsed recently.
Around 300 families stayed on in the submerging village because they had yet to receive full compensation either from mining corporation PT Lapindo Brantas or from the government.
They did receive 20 percent of the compensation due them from Lapindo, but the remaining 80 percent has not been paid despite the expired deadline the government set in a 2007 presidential instruction addressing the disaster.
Resident Buang Sucipto said they could do nothing to salvage their houses as the mudflow slowly and surely displaced them from their homes.
“The land and the houses are undocumented but they are ours. We deserve fair compensation. Lapindo should also pay for the hardship. The disaster has robbed the villagers of their social well-being,” he said here Wednesday.
Minarak Lapindo Jaya, a unit of Lapindo, has offered resettlement instead of cash compensation for families whose assets were undocumented.
Acting head of Renokenongo village Subakri urged the Sidoarjo Mudflow Handling Agency (BPLS) to immediately repair the failing dike because, apart from the mudflow inundating their homes, its noxiousness is disturbing the locals.
“We have never given up. We have to receive what is our right although the disaster has caused so much suffering and violated our right to live peacefully and humanely,” Subakri said.
Separately, BPLS spokesperson Akhmad Zulkarnain said the failing dike near the main hot mud outpouring was due to fragile soil conditions. He said several cranes had been deployed to dredge mud from the Porong river to strengthen the collapsing dike.
“It may look like we aren’t doing anything, but we actually have done a great deal to repair the collapsing retaining wall. We need more time to tackle the problem,” he said.
In a separate development, 600 Renokenongo families who have been living in makeshift dwellings at the Porong market building have negotiated an agreement with Minarak Lapindo Jaya regarding their assets damaged by the mudflow.
Pitanto, coordinator for the Renokenongo disaster victim group, said the victims have received Minarak’s offer for a 20 percent payment up front and resettlement to end the more than two years of displacement.
“Minarak is still examining the ownership documents for the houses and land the victims owned,” Pitanto said.
So far, he said, 147 of the 475 families whose assets were damaged have been examined. The review is expected to be completed in a few weeks.
“All recipients will sign the agreement at the same time,” he said, adding victims accepted Lapindo’s offer after the government had guaranteed the deal.
The victims have rejected Lapindo’s proposed compensation scheme because the presidential decree did no spell out any sanctions if the mining company were to fail to meet the compensation payment deadline.
“If the deal is signed, Minarak will pay 20 percent of the compensation for the damaged houses. The remaining 80 percent will be paid within one year,” he said.
“All the victims will be resettled to a nearby housing compound within a year and they will receive the deeds for their new homes,” he added.
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post