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BerichtOnderwerp: Alert status for Sidoarjo mudflow    vr 5 dec 2014 - 22:56

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Sidoarjo, Friday December 05 2014

The government is pushing PT Lapindo Brantas to complete payment of a remaining Rp 781 billion (US$63.4 million) in compensation to mudflow victims in Porong, Sidoarjo, East Java, within the
next year.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said on Thursday that the government was currently seeking ways to force Lapindo, an oil and gas company affiliated with Bakrie Group chairman Aburizal Bakrie, to fulfill its financial obligation to victims of the mudflow allegedly caused by Lapindo during a drilling operation in 2006.

“I have reported the matter to the President. And the President instructed [us] not to wait too much longer. Eight years is enough. [The compensation] is supposed to be settled in the 2015 fiscal year,” Andi said.

“We will hold meetings to discuss it and to ensure that Lapindo fulfills its obligation,” he said.

He said the government was also ready to make its remaining compensation payment of Rp 300 billion to the victims next year.

Andi made the remarks after a meeting with Sunarso, the head of the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS), at the Presidential Palace compound.

The BPLS’ work to repair a damaged embankment at the mudflow reservoir has been hindered due to opposition from affected residents who demanded the settlement of all compensation.

Citing a Constitutional Court ruling in April that set a legal foundation for the government to force Lapindo to complete the compensation payment to the victims, Andi said the government would not take over Lapindo’s obligation.

Between 2007 and 2014, former president Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono provided financial protection for the Bakrie Group by allocating more than Rp 6 trillion to com-pensate villagers affected by the disaster.

Earlier this week, Sidoarjo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) set a mudflow alert status for some 40,000 people living around the mudflow reservoir following damage to some embankment areas, which may be exacerbated during the rainy season.

“The damage on Sunday to spot 73B in Kedungbendo and Renokenongo subdistricts in Tanggulangin and Porong districts has created a critical situation on the embankment,” Sidoarjo BPBD head Dwijo Prawito said in Surabaya, East Java, on Wednesday.

With the alert status, he said, his agency would mitigate the situation for affected people for evacuation purposes if further damage occurred.

The 40,000 at-risk residents were spread across seven subdistricts in Porong district and Tanggulangin district. Dwijo said the National Search and Rescue Team (Basarnas) had prepared a group of 12 personnel at its post in the Juanda Sedati area, Sidoarjo.

Suherman, a victim of the mudflow, said he was tired of waiting for compensation.
“It’s been years,” he said.

Like many other survivors, Suherman decided to remain living at his house while waiting for payment.

BPLS spokesperson Dwinanto said the condition of the embankment at spot 21, which directly bordered the Porong highway, was critical because it had an elevation of only 25 centimeters.

“The safe elevation [level] to prevent the mud from overflowing is around 1.5 meters,” he said.

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