Indonesia: More victims demand compensation for mudflow
Sidoarjo, East Java - Residents living outside the areas officially affected by the Lapindo mudflow disaster have demanded compensation following the provincial administration's announcement of a plan to relocate them from West Siring, Porong District.
The residents are arguing that simply relocating them, without providing compensation for their homes and land, would make it very difficult for them to buy another house.
"If they don't give us the compensation, we'd rather take refuge at the Pasar Baru market," local resident Mahmud Marzuki told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
East Java Governor Soekarwo earlier said that he would relocate residents of West Siring out of fears the subdistrict is becoming increasingly prone to disaster due to the high possibility new mudflow and gas geysers will erupt in the area.
He said the provincial administration would provide each of the families with Rp 2.5 million (US$250) with which to rent a house, a Rp 500,000 evacuation allowance and a monthly living stipend of Rp 300,000 per family member for six months. "We decided to relocated the residents after meeting with local people," Soekarwo said.
After receiving compensation worth 20 percent of the value of their homes from Lapindo Brantas Inc., the company at the center of the disaster, over 350 families displaced by the mudflow left the Pasar Baru market where they had been taking refuge for nearly three years. They have since moved to a specially constructed site in Kedungsolo subdistrict, Porong.
Head of a West Siring neighborhood unit, Ikwan, said most of his people would take refugee at the Pasar Baru market as they were sick of trying to deal with the regular mudflow and gas eruptions that have erupted in the past two years.
"We do hope the government will give us the same amount of compensation given to the victims from the regions that fall within the officially affected area. We want the government and the people know how hard it is to live in a region affected by flash mudflows," Ikwan said.
Over 2,000 people live in West Siring subdistrict, which is located outside the area officially affected by the mudflow disaster, as determined by the central government.
Meanwhile, after stemming a flash mudflow that erupted inside a local's house, the Sidoarjo Mudflow Handling Agency (BPLS) is now dealing with another one, in another house.
Head of BPLS' public relation s division, Achmad Zulkarnain, said that apart from solid debris, inflammable gas also spews from the eruptions. "It's very dangerous. We have closed the area and put *no smoking' sings up because of the inflammable methane gas. We also have built a mini dam to prevent the mud from spreading," he said on Friday.
This has however led to protests from the PT Lion Mesk Group, who can no longer access their business because of the closure. "We have yet to calculate, but we have definitely lost tens of millions of rupiahs," company spokesman Nur Ahmad Ridhoi said.
Meanwhile, head of the Sidoarjo Police's detective and crime unit, Adj. Comr. Agung Pribadi, has concluded that flash gas flows that burst into flames were not lit deliberately. "It was a natural occurrence, the result of poorly managed flash mudflows," he said.