Rembang project temporarily halted, Indonesia

Rembang project temporarily halted, Indonesia
Published: 06 November 2014


Central Java Governor, Ganjar Pranowo, has said that Semen Gresik's cement plant project in Watuputih, Rembang, has been halted to respect the process of a citizen lawsuit at the Commercial Court in Semarang, Central Java. The lawsuit, filed by residents who rejected the exploration plan, wants to overturn the governor’s decision of 7 June 2012 reading the plant’s environmental permit.

An industry source told CemNet news that Mr Pranowo received a letter of recommendation from the the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) dated 22 October 2014 recommending the cessation of activities and the withdrawal of heavy equipment from the factory site. Their reasoning is that the community needs tranquility, a sense of security and comfort, as well as legal certainty.

"I was surprised because in my meeting with Komnas HAM mid-October 2014, such recommendations did not appear. I am now appointing a mediator to speak to the involved parties abou the pros and cons of cement plant in Rembang," Mr Ganjar said earlier this week in Semarang.

The lawsuit is based on findings by certain associations which identified 49 caves in the Watuputih area, four of which have include an underground river. In addition, there are 109 groundwater springs in Watuputih which are located in a protected geological area. The residents alleged the exploration could damage the environment and potentially eliminate the local water sources in that area.

Agung Wiharto, corporate secretary of Gresik's parent company Semen Indonesia, said he appreciated the recommendations of Komnas HAM. "We are now awaiting the court’s verdict”, he said.

On Wednesday, protests were held outside the governor’s offices, urging for the environmental permits for the construction of the Rembang cement plant to be cancelled.