"The greatest responsibility of humanity is to provide a rich and diverse global environment for the future generations. The increasing scale and diversity of man's activities have resulted in several serious environmental issues, such as global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, air and waste pollution, soil contamination, deforestation, and desertification—all of which risk the future of humanity." – JICA.
Who is JICA?
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is a governmental agency that delivers the bulk of Official Development Assistance for the government of Japan. It is chartered with assisting economic and social growth in developing countries and promoting international cooperation. Their mission, as written, is to work on human security and quality growth. JICA has projects worldwide in all fields, including education, science and technology, health, economic policy, and of course, climate change and environmental management.
They wrote, "The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include many goals concerning the environmental management sector, including water and sanitation, urban development, and sustainable consumption and production. In consideration of such complex nature of the issue, a cross-sectoral and comprehensive perspective is necessary for assistance in the field of environmental management."
To "support" their "environmental management" projects, JICA created the Environmental and Social Considerations and JICA Environmental Policy as the guide for working on projects. In the policy, it seems that they really know what they are talking about when they talk about conserving the environment, whereas it is repugnant to their practice.
In 2017, it was reported that PT PLN received guaranteed funding from JICA to construct the Indramayu Coal-Fired Power Plant Project (PLTU) with a capacity of 2X 1,000 MegaWatt (MW).
Indramayu Coal-Fired Power Plant
Photo Credit: Walhi Jabar
According to JICA, the project's objectives are to improve the power supply capacity in the Java-Bali system, ease the stringency of power demand in the Java-Bali system, and improve the reliability of power supply by introducing a 1,000MW ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Indramayu, West Java Province. This statement, however, is questionable.
One of the Mekarsari residents stated, "The power plant is not for the residents of Indramayu, because we have received electricity from the PLTA Jatiluhur. We already have electricity from water, a cleaner generator," said Jani.
This project certainly received a lot of protests from local residents. Walhi reported, in November 2020, four representatives of farmworkers from Mekarsari Village, Indramayu visited the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta to submit a letter of urging request that the Japanese government not provide loans for the construction of the Indramayu II coal-fired power plant in their village. In addition to them, Indramayu residents who live around the PLTU Indramayu I area formed Jaringan Tanpa Asap Batu Bara Indramayu (Jatayu) in March 2015 as a protest against the planned construction of PLTU II funded by JICA.
In the decree issued by the Indramayu Regent regarding the environmental permit for the PLTU construction activity, it is written that the Indramayu Regent has given permission to PT PLN, which in the third point is written, "Liquid Waste Disposal into the Sea or Other Water Reservoirs."
Before PLTU I, fishermen used to catch fish in the surrounding waters; after PLTU I was built, fishermen had to look for other areas, which now turns out to be PLTU II. Not only will fishermen find it even more challenging to catch fish, but they also have to bear the expense of repairing fishing nets damaged by coal barge anchors, and the surrounding waters are threatened with severe contamination due to the waste.
The smoke from the combustion of PLTU II also threatens the air quality in Indramayu. This condition can cause the risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, acid rain, which can damage property and cause the death of flora and fauna. "Most of them are URTI. So, at the Sukra Health Center, most of the sick are toddlers or under the age of 12," added Rodi as leader of Jatayu. Residents also feel that the temperature or the local climate around the village near the PLTU is getting hotter than before.
Human Rights Violation
Photo Credit: Walhi Jabar
In December 2017, the Bandung Administrative Court Panel of Judges declared that the environmental permit for PLTU Indramayu II was invalid, but a week later, three residents were arrested by the police for allegedly deliberately installing an upside-down red and white flag around the location of the PLTU Indramayu II. The same thing happened to four members from Jatayu when they refused to build a substation in September 2017.
What's even more ridiculous, a resident also experienced prosecution for opening a small shop (warung). He is considered to be working on the land about 100 meters from the location of the PLTU Indramayu or the allegation of land tenure.
Photo Credit: Walhi Jabar
These cases clearly contradict what is written in the Land Acquisition and Resettlement Action Plan (LARAP) for this project, which states Law No. 39/1999 concerning Human Rights, "This is the basis of the obligation to protect vulnerable groups in Indonesia. The law (Article 5) states that all members of disadvantaged groups in society, such as children, the poor, and the disabled, are entitled to greater protection of human rights."
Sign the Petition
The least we can do is spread the news and sign the petition. You can also read the full petition here. Please sign the petition to request the Japanese government and JICA not to support the construction of the Indramayu coal-fired power plant in Indonesia!