A plan by state-owned cement company PT Semen Gresik’s to construct a cement factory in Pati regency, Central Java, has been met with mixed reaction, with objectors warning of environmental damage.
In Semarang on Tuesday, 50 people claiming to be members of the People’s Concern for South Pati said they supported the plan, while in Pati on the same day, hundreds of protesters staged a rally in front of the regent’s office, demanding the plan be axed.
"Some 50 springs in the Kendeng hills in Sukolilo district will come under threat if the factory is established there," said Sukarman, head of the Semarang Legal Aids Institute’s environment division, which supervised the protesters.
He said the factory could severely damage and pollute the water channels in the area’s karst lands -- a limestone bed perforated by underground streams -- a threat he said the environmental impact analysis (Amdal) team had ignored.
"All of the springs in the hills are connected to one another. If one is spoiled, it will influence others," Sukarman added.
He also said the Central Java provincial administration had wrongly stated in a government regulation that the karst lands were a suitable area for mining activities.
The regulation, he continued, was not in accordance with Government Regulation No. 26/2008 on spatial planning, which stipulates that all karst lands are protected.
"This means they cannot be classified on a mining basis," he added.
The regulation, he said, was seconded by Ministerial Decree No. 0398/2008 on Sukolilo Karst, which prohibits any activity deemed to damage karst.
"That’s why any activity that has the potential to damage the ecology resulting in damage to the springs is not allowed there," he said.