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SBY and Mudlake Tourism

lapindowisata_thumb_medium250_221A few days ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited the Lapindo mudflow area in Sidoarjo, East Java. SBY suggested to use the mud lake as a geological tourist site.

Yet SBY could only appeal half-heartedly to PT Lapindo Brantas to finalise the delayed settlement when the site was finally bought off to compensate the loss of the disaster’s long-list victims.

Activists and volunteers who have worked with Lapindo victims claimed the idea to transform the mudlake into tourism village as non-sense. Victims only hope that Indonesian government soon could put an end to their suffering.

The financial settlement to compensate the loss for the majority of the victims has not been yet finalized amid the Presidential Regulation no. 14, 2007 through Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency.

In a stark contrast to the debate aired on TV before elected president where SBY vowed to evaluate the government’s policies in handling the Lapindo mudflow, he only made amendments to the Presidential Regulation number 14/2007 jo Presidential Regulation number 48/2008 with Presidential Regulation number 40/2009 which only brought  Lapindo responsibility to a lower level and further dropped more load on the State Budget (APBN) following his election.

Research conducted by the Surabaya 10 November Institute (ITS) indicated that the west area of the Lapindo mudflow was not feasible for dwelling. This is caused by the high level of hydrocarbon which hit 55.000ppm, while the maximum limit that could be tolerated for health is 0,24ppm.

Throughout 2008 alone there were already three people dead from Siring Regency: Soetrisno, Yakup and Luluk.

None of the government institution is known to have conducted research on the impact of the toxic gas from the mudflow, neither provided valid record for illness and death for public information resources.

United Nations through The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) monitored the mudflow activity throughout mid 2006 and wrote in their report that “although there is no further information on the measurement, a concentration of 700 ppm could have acute direct effect on human health which results in death.”

The idea of transforming Lapindo mudflow into geological tourism destination has to be assessed further, as the hydrocarbon compound and other gas known as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon are possible causes of cancer in the long term.

Yudhoyono’s efforts to take over the settlement of Lapindo victims currently requires significant acts rather than statements and throwing ideas around which obviously generate more dangerous situations in the field.

The resolution for the mudflow victims shall not be affected neither it shall be delayed by the particular situations of the private sector, such as Lapindo’s financial difficulties due to global economic crisis. If it is based on such ground, it can be assumed that the nation has been defeated and driven by capital interest.

Yudhoyono’s inability to enforce his own Presidential Regulation number 14/2007 only rubs more salt in the wound even further when his authority as president allows him to intervene and push the company to settle within the time period stated in the regulation. He also could have revoked operational permit of Lapindo Brantas Inc., and take over productive gas wells in the Brantas Block if the company fails to comply with the regulation. Declaring Lapindo’s bankruptcy to evoke public interest is another example of imposing government’s authority, and simultaneously, this act could reinforce the financial settlement to the Lapindo victims with state budget initially as referred to the suggestion of the State Auditor (BPK) report on May 29, 2007.

Weakness of the state against corporation and suffering of the victims are the result of dominating foreign capitalist interests. And now it is ours to decide whether we will allow domestic capitalists to reign on this nation.

[Subagyo]

Translated by Mirna Rivai from “SBY dan Wisata Lumpur”

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