Not wanting their living space to be damaged, the people of Bayur Island reject coal mining

%When IKN Comes, Indigenous People Are Worried That Traditions Will Disappear%

The people of Pulau Bayur Village stretched a four by one meter banner on the wall of the Riau DPRD Commission I meeting room. That day, June 26, noon, a meeting was taking place between the chairman and two members of the commission with the people of Pulau Bayur Village, Cerenti District, Kuantan Singingi Regency, Riau.

The banner emphasized the rejection of the people of Bayur Island towards coal mining activities by PT Fabrik Components of the Energy Industry (FKIE). There are two reasons for the community, Bayur Island is not for mining and gardens and fields are a source of future livelihood. There are also hashtags, Save Pulau Bayur and withdraw IUP FKIE.

Eddy A Mohd Yatim, Chairman of Commission I continues to listen to the people’s complaints. Every citizen who wants to speak is given the opportunity, without exception.

There were those who sat and stood because they did not get a chair. The meeting was also open for media coverage.

The people of Pulau Bayur have rejected plans to mine coal in their village since last year. At that time, the community saw the company’s people surveying the location, deploying heavy equipment, clearing the land, making access for vehicles in and out until land acquisition negotiations were agreed upon with several residents.

“Coal mining is troubling the village community. We do not agree with the mining permit on Bayur Island,” said Dalismar, Chair of the Bayur Island Concerned Community Forum (FMPPB).

Quoting reports from several online media , between February and May 2023, the community once visited the Cerenti sub-district office, asking the company to stop its activities. The protest was widespread and the Kuantan Singingi Government responded by holding a meeting at the Pulau Bayur Village Hall.

Masweni, a resident who took part in the objection and one of those reported said that before going up the cliff to stop the company’s activities, they had given them an appeal and a warning beforehand. At that time, several police were also present but the company did not budge.

Masweni’s statement was confirmed by Baharudin, including being reported to the Riau Police because he took part in the action at that time. He said the people climbed onto the cliff just to stop the company from clearing the land. At the site, the community has never seen any cut in the water hose. They only found out after there was a summons.

Currently, the village community feels intimidated by the report. No one dared to answer the summons of the police. Apart from the distance from Bayur Island to Pekanbaru, the Riau Police Headquarters is quite far, also considering the cost and prioritizing earning money in the garden for daily living expenses.

“Arrogant company. Whatever the reasons for the community’s refusal, they will continue to work,” said Mardianto Manan, a member of Commission I DPRD Riau, helping to explain the incident on Pulau Bayur.

FMPPB also sent letters containing rejections to a number of Kuantan Singingi Government agencies. Including the district parliament and even the Kuantan Singingi Police. 

The people of Bayur Island asked Commission I DPRD Riau to help resolve their problems.

Eddy promised to summon parties related to this issue, including ensuring legal protection for the people who were reported to the Riau Police, for fighting for environmental rights. Apart from that, he will also bring this issue up for discussion at cross-commissions, because Commission I only deals with the fields of law and governance.

Disobedient ?

From data from the Directorate General of General Legal Administration, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which was obtained last July, the majority shareholder of this coal company is Hadi Basalamah. There are also the names Amelie Raya Sari and Rosalie Putri Sari as commissioners. Reni Anggreani and Indah Tamara Marina, as director and main commissioner, respectively.

FKIE obtained approval to increase the exploration mining business license to a mining business permit for coal mining production operations, October 15, 2014. This permit was granted by the Regent of Sukarmis. Currently, he is a member of the Riau DPRD for the 2019-2024 period. He is recorded as a member of Commission IV in charge of development, including mining and energy.

It’s just that, since obtaining the permit or at least until 2021, FKIE has not started activities immediately and there has never been any notification or outreach to the public. Suddenly, in October 2022, the company lobbied the community to sell the land and gradually deployed the equipment to start operations.

The company working in the field is not FKIE, but PT Linka Dewaro Energi (LDE). In fact, the owner of an IUP covering an area of ​​9,822 hectares covering the villages of Pulau Jambu, Pulau Bayur, Sikakak, Koto Cerenti, Teluk Pauh, Kampung Baru to Tanjung Medan, is still in the name of FKIE.

Currently, LDE controls 23 hectares of the planned mining area, the result of buying and selling land with the community.

Decree of the Regent of Kuantan Singingi Number: 434a/X2014, clearly grants permits to FKIE. In the fourth, sixth and seventh dictums of the decree it states, companies are prohibited from transferring IUP without the approval of the regent, must submit the RKAB no later than 60 days after the permit is issued and must start activities after the work plan is approved, from 90 working days. The company should have started operations in 2015.

In the eighth dictum, the regent can suspend, revoke or cancel the IUP if the company does not fulfill the obligations and restrictions described in the previous dictums.

“The IUP was issued without a procedure. After obtaining a new permit, there is land conditioning. Because of this, there are pros and cons among the people who reject and agree with mining,” said Sadrianto, a community leader from Kuantan Singingi, who attended the meeting with Commission I DPRD Riau.

Mardianto Manan said that land tenure was impressed by intimidating ways, so that the community would relinquish their ownership rights to the company. Only about 10 residents are selling land. That too is for people outside Bayur Island who happen to own land there. The majority of the people refused to hand over the land.

Suhardiman Amby, Acting Regent of Kuantan Singingi, threw the matter at the center. He said coal mining is the authority of the central government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM). Including environmental impact obligations that mining companies must anticipate and overcome, is a matter for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK).

“But according to the current law, permits issued in the past have been harmonized. The area only gets dust and mud. All authorities are already in Jakarta. Except for the sand and coral excavations, they have been returned to the provincial government (governor),” said Suhardiman, via a messaging application, last July 6.

Boy Jerry Even Sembiring, Executive Director of Walhi Riau, said in a release last May that the district government no longer has the authority to grant, revoke or cancel mining permits. However, he said, the district head could side with the community by sending a letter to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources asking them to evaluate the FKIE license.

In addition to the issue of openness and community participation in the coal investment plan, Rustam Effendi, also a community leader in Kuantan Singingi, questioned the issuance of mining permits that did not comply with the spatial and territorial designations in the district, which has the slogan “unite, advanced nogori “.

Rustam said, based on Regional Regulation 1/2004, regarding the RTRW of Kuantan Singingi, explained that Cerenti District was only used as agricultural land. “Because it is the main source of livelihood. If for agriculture, why become mining? It means that the policies of the Kuansing Government are inconsistent.”

Currently, said Mardianto Manan, the Government of Kuantan Singingi is preparing a new RTRW. On that basis, Eddy also asked the community to oversee the drafting process so as not to change the allotment of space aliases to be legalized into a mining area.

Suhardiman said that the 2004 Perda RTRW Kuantan Singingi had been annulled by the Decree on Consensus Forest Use (TGHK), so it had to refer to the Perda RTRW Riau which was issued in 2018. The problem is, this perda also has to be revised because several articles violate higher regulations.

Regarding the operation of the coal mine production on Bayur Island by LDE, not FKIE, Suhardiman does not want the local government to be blamed. He suggested using court channels to test the legitimacy of the practice.

Mongabay obtained a letterhead with PT Fabric Components for the Energy Industry, dated October 8, 2021. It said Hadi Basalamah, Main Director, assigned Project Manager Dadang Hartanto, Field Coordinator Apri Yadi Yansyah and the Ependi Public Relations Team, to take care of community socialization for drilling in the IUP operating work area production, Pulau Bayur Village and around.

Meanwhile Ridwan, Director of Operations at PT Linka Dewaro Energi, explained the company’s operations. They started work early in 2023. He said, there was a meeting with several village leaders.

Before 2022, the people of Bayur Island had already communicated and worked with the company but problems arose.

“Suppose there is drilling. One point of drilling IDR 350,000. By the company’s public relations team, before LDE entered, it was not paid in full. Not even paid. Until finally heard by the community.”

End of 2022 enter LDE. Early January 2023, field survey company based on FKIE information. “We met community leaders and youth. Attended by village officials. We convey the mining plan based on the FKIE IUP.”

LDE is working on a mine under FKIE’s permit, he said, FKIE has the right to subcontract to contractors holding mining service business permits (IUJP), including LDEs.

In the socialization process, the people of Pulau Bayur insisted on rejecting coal mining. Several communications, both sub-district and district, the community was advised to follow.

“The community agrees and agrees. So the MoU happened. The community agreed to the land for mining. About 30 names, approximately 40 to 50 hectares have been paid for. Currently, coal drilling has entered,” he said in a statement to Mongabay .

When asked by the people of Bayur Village that they were worried about their land or garden being disturbed, said Ridwan, they did not touch Pulau Bayur Village.

He claims concern about impact as a classic reason to intervene in the company. “Until whenever our village will not advance.”

He also talked about coal production from there, they will sell it domestically, possibly a PLTU and a factory in Riau.

“Today, prices are dropping. In fact, many mines have collapsed, laying off workers. Production costs and sales prices are not balanced.”

He also mentioned that their coal is low in calories. “The new boom can be used by foreign and domestic companies, starting from 2018. So far they have not mined because there is no market. With innovation , low calories can be mixed with high calories. That is also one of the reasons FKIE is not producing.”

Lose society

During the dry season, rubber and oil palm plantations—the people’s main commodities—dry up. The condition was made worse by the dust generated by the passing of company vehicles.

When it’s hot, they say the garden becomes dry because they can’t absorb water anymore. When going to the garden he has to wear glasses and a mask to avoid dust. During the rainy season, he is forced to push his motorcycle because the road has been muddy since the company started operating.

“I once told the company, that’s my land. They bought and sold land without my knowledge,” he said.

Similar worries also overshadow Herman, another resident. The land is about 100 meters from the coal mine. He wants the people of Pulau Bayur to remain prosperous as farmers. He hoped the coal mine would not operate.

The Bayur Island community firmly rejects coal mining. “There is no other way. We are at war. For the lives of our children and grandchildren,” said Rustam Effendi.

Suhardiman denied the turmoil in society. If there is anything, it’s the police’s business to secure investment. Regarding community land, he said, it was the authority of the National Land Agency (BPN), through the Kuantan Singingi Land Office.

According to Boy, seeing the destructive power of coal mines that have occurred elsewhere, it is only natural for the people of Pulau Bayur to reject activities in their village.

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