Illegal mining is rife in East Kalimantan. Society and academia move against it. Everyone is waiting for the firmness of the security forces and the government’s concern.
Floods in recent years have regularly hit Muang Dalam, Samarinda, East Kalimantan. One of the peaks occurred on September 3, 2021. In a video that has gone viral on social media, it can be seen that coal flakes were carried into people’s homes. Ten days later, the flood came again. Unrest spread, and led to a protest by residents against illegal mining practices in the area on September 25.
Soleh Arifin, the youth leader of Muang Dalam told how mining ruined their livelihood. The villages there are agricultural areas, even rice barns in the past. As mining activity increases, water sources dry up. Rice plants can no longer grow because the fields dry up.
“So people are now turning to livestock. However, at this time it is also difficult to find animal feed ingredients, with many locations open to mining activities,” said Soleh.
In other areas, the conditions are not much different. Samin, Head of Suko Mulyo Village, Sebaku District, North Panajam Paser Regency, East Kalimantan told a similar story. As a government agency, the village has sent an official report. Ten agencies received copies, starting with the sub-district head, a number of agencies, even the local Ministry of Environment and Forestry office.
Officials in government uniforms did take to the field. Take photos and videos of illegal mining locations. The heavy equipment at the site that has been excavated since 2020 is sealed. However, a few days after the government team left, the mine was operating again.
“Because there is no firm law, the activities are still running until now. The mining activity only stopped when one or two days after the field investigation was carried out,” said Samin.
Samin was surprised that there was no firm action, because it was clear that the mining violated the law, harmed the state, disturbed the community and damaged the environment. Coal hauling trucks continued to pass on village roads, even in front of the local Camar and Polsek offices.
Affected University Gardens
The Indonesian Caucus for Academic Freedom (KIKA) held a discussion on Tuesday (26/10) evening regarding illegal mining in East Kalimantan. Not only having an impact on farmers’ land, these miners have been operating in areas where students have field activities.
One of them is in the garden area belonging to the Faculty of Agriculture, Mulawarman University. Nurul Puspita Palupi, vice dean at the faculty, said that the mining operation is right next to their experimental garden. In fact, the land area of 17 hectares is clearly used by agricultural students for scientific activities.
“What are the consequences? Because it is an agricultural activity from my students to do research, do practicum there, when there is mining activity automatically all existing activities will also be disrupted, “he said.
The stakes of this experimental garden have also shifted, while it is impossible for the university to monitor the area for 24 hours.
Eighty-eight lecturers who are members of the Mulawarman University Lecturer Coalition have filed a petition rejecting illegal mining. Officially, the petition has been received by the Samarinda Police. These academics hope that the police will act decisively.
Data from the East Kalimantan Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) stated that in the 2018-2021 period, there were at least 151 Unlicensed Mining (PETI) locations in the province. This number is spread over 107 locations in Kutai Kartanegara Regency, 29 locations in Samarinda City, 11 locations in Berau Regency, and 4 locations in North Penajam Paser Regency.
Pradarma Rupang from Jatam Kaltim questioned the attitude of the state that is not as serious as tackling terrorism, when dealing with illegal mining companies. Even though it is clear that the state has been harmed by this practice. Illegal miners do not pay any taxes, royalties or fees to the government. They also do not take care of licensing.
Illegal mining is rampant, because the operation is cheap. Pradarma said operators only need to rent heavy equipment and buy the fuel.
“After that, they will share the results. Investors only need around Rp. 150 million and will get a benefit of Rp. 2 billion to Rp. 3 billion, from within an area that is not too large, about one hectare, that is already extraordinary. Just one or two hectares,” said Pradarma.
Pradarma said that one of the things that made illegal mining fertile was the availability of hundreds of small ports to support transportation. In addition, the parties involved also come from various circles, ranging from local politicians in the DPRD, unscrupulous security forces to government officials.
Mining Business Character
As a business operation, illegal mining is actually an organized crime. Franky Butar Butar from the Center for Human Rights Law Studies, Airlangga University, Surabaya, called it one of the characteristics of this organization. In addition, another character that can be identified is that illegal mining involves the rich or influential, both at the local and national level. In addition, they also destroy nature.
“Withdrawing the mining permit authority to the center does not mean that the damage in the mining areas will disappear,” Franky continued.
In addition, illegal mining also has power relations, and holds political, financial and power capital. They ignore social and environmental aspects, and in some cases, the mining business must be related to the security forces, especially the big ones. In addition to avoiding tax obligations, mining companies also do not reclaim ex-mines.
Meanwhile, I Gusti Agung Made Wardana from the Faculty of Law, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, said that the current challenge is the cooperation of all parties. Communities face cases, while non-governmental organizations own the data. In this condition, they often forget that what happens in their area also happens in other places.
“This can be bridged by campus intellectuals to produce knowledge, that what they are facing is actually faced by many communities around the world, so that solidarity of victims will emerge,” said Agung.
Agung added that intellectuals must be able to invite the public and non-governmental organizations to fight against the existing system. [ns/ab]