Prioritisation of Infrastructure Development , Inevitable Human Rights Violations

ELSAM, Jakarta – The economic development agenda behind Nawacita, operationalised in the 2015-2019 National Intermediate Term Development Plan (RPJMN), is directed to comprehensively consolidate development in various sectors, focusing on economic competitiveness. In order to achieve the plan, the government focuses on infrastructure development and energy provision, improvement of the investment and business climate, and more efficient bureaucracy. In order to support infrastructure development, land and funds from investors or corporations are required.

The focus on such a model of economic development results in consequences of human rights violations and conflict. This has been confirmed from the number of community complaints relating to human rights violations committed by corporations, especially land disputes, received by the National Commission on Human Rights. In 2014, the Commission received 6527 files of human rights violations complaints, dominated by land disputes.

To discuss the issue, ELSAM held a discussion themed Implications of Infrastructure Development to Human Rights, in Jakarta, 18 August 2015. The discussion was intended to look at the potential of human rights violations in the future, as infrastructure development is a priority of Joko Widodo’s cabinet, in order to push investment. As source persons in the discussion were Sugeng Bahagijo from INFID and Paring Waluyo from Desantara.

In the discussion, Paring stated that the government orientation will result in a high level of competition between industries in the cement sector. Investment projections until 2017 predict that cement production will rise in value to the amount of 7.4 billion USD. The biggest investment was made by Semen Indonesia, with a value of 1.5 billion USD, to increase production in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Indocement is investing 1.1 billion USD to increase production in Java and Kalimantan, while PT Semen Andalas is investing 550 million USD to increase production in Sumatra. Other companies include Holcim, which is investing 400 million USD in East Java, and Semen Bosowa, which is investing 300 million USD in Java and Sulawesi.

Other than the existing players in the cement sector, new foreign investors are projected to enter. Anhui Conch Group (China) will be investing in West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and Papua. Siam Cement (Thailand) is projected to invest 800 million USD, while Lafarge (France) is to invest 500 million USD.

Cement Factory Impacts Demand Improvement to Environmental Impact Analysis Management

According to Paring, there are several impacts of cement plant construction, namely reduction in soil quality due to reduction of water, declining water quality due to tailings and poor waste management. Air pollution is also an issue due to the cement production process and the transport of the finished product, which create CO, CO2 and SO2. Another issue is declining quality and quantity of community livelihood, especially those depending on farming. Unrestored land also cause various problems such as floods and landslides.

Minimisation of these impacts can be done through improvement to the management of the environmental impact analysis. “The environmental impact analysis process must not be implemented by the industry or the actor; it should be done by the state,” he added.

Sugeng also told about his experience on the advocacy on the Kedung Ombo dam case. He stated that the experience of Kedung Ombo advocacy could be utilised as a learning tool for advocacy on the implication of infrastructure development in Indonesia.

“When we observed the advocacy on Kedung Ombo, there were differences from the current situation, as that was during the New Order era, and there was only one target, Kedung Ombo. Nowadays, the development occurs in several locations. The experience of Kedung Ombo was that the advocacy won and lost at the same time, as it failed to stop the construction, but managed to inform the World Bank to give tight requirements to give loans for development projects potentially violating human rights,” he stated.

Writer: Muhammad Irwan
Editor: Ari Yurino