Despite being controversial, the government will go ahead with plans to build
Jatigede dam. Sumedang regent Don Murdono has revealed that construction of the
large, Rp 2.1 trillion (US$ 221 million) dam will commence in the near future,
despite mounting protests.
"There has been debate among the public. The government believes that
construction of the dam will benefit the majority, so we will move ahead with
it," said Murdono recently.
The statement came as public controversy over the planned construction of the
dam reached a peak. Rallies by different groups have been held over the course
of two weeks, with one camp supporting the dam, and the other opposed to it. The
first was spearheaded by the Joint Communique of Jatigede Community, while the
second was represented by the Alliance of Agricultural Reform and Jatigede
People's Communication Forum (KFKR).
KFKR chairman Kusnadi, who opposes the dam, said that its construction would
benefit only farmers from other regencies, while it would cause farmers in
Sumedang, particularly Jatigede, to incur losses.
He claimed that Jatigede farmers would lose 2,000 hectares of land; in addition,
the dam would claim a further 1,200 hectares of land and forest belonging to
state forestry company PT Perhutani.
The losses have been a cause of concern for the farmers, as their land is
fertile, said Kusnadi. Jatigede farmers could harvest rice three times per year
and each hectare produced five tons to eight tons of rice per harvest.
The protest by those in favor of the dam has been supported by Jakarta-based
non-governmental organizations, including the Indonesian Forum for the
This camp has urged the government to stick to its plan to build the
high-profile dam as soon as possible.
Joint Communique of Jatigede Community coordinator Irfan Yudi said construction
of the dam would benefit some 100,000 hectares of paddy field along the Java
coast, particularly in West Java province.
He said that if the dam were built in the province, it would address the
continual problems of drought and flooding in West Java, particularly in
Meanwhile, Murdono claimed, in general, Jatigede farmers and residents agreed
with the plan to construct the dam. They were simply demanding that the
government pay them more in compensation for the loss of their land, he said.
The residents demanded the government pay them Rp 1.1 million (US$ 115.8) per 14
hectares, but the government insisted on only Rp 900,000.
"If this problem can be overcome, the government could soon proceed with
construction of the dam," said Murdono.
Of the 4,890 hectares due to be flooded by the proposed reservoir, only about
1,000 hectares remain to be acquired by the government. The dam is targeted to
trap 800 million cubic meters of water and will cost the state Rp 600 billion.
It is estimated to be able to irrigate 97,000 hectares of paddy field, not only
in Sumedang regency, but also in the neighboring regencies of Indramayu, Cirebon