Slamet Slamet Residents' Rejection of the Pemalang Clean Water Project

  • The planned clean water project, which is claimed to be a national strategic project, is causing problems because it is accused of destroying protected forests and threatening environmental sustainability.
  • Communities in the upstream area, to be precise in 8 villages and spread across 2 sub-districts on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet, are not actively involved  and reject the clean water project for Pemalang Regency.
  • Representatives of LMDH and LPDH complained about the clean water project issue to the Banyumas DPRD due to various problems including the absence of an Amdal
  • The parties in Banyumas agreed to reject the clean water project for Pemalang Regency

After several years the issue disappeared, in 2024 a project plan claimed to be a national strategic project reappeared. The project is the construction of clean water facilities by drawing water on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet, Central Java. Even though the water source is in the Banyumas Regency area, it is intended for Pemalang Regency.

Residents were surprised because the Pemalang Regency Government, through the local PDAM, sent a letter to the administrators of the Forest Village Community Institution (LMDH) and the Village Forest Management Institution (LPDH) on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet in the form of notification regarding the project. For LMDH activists it clearly raises questions, regarding the notification but the content directly asks for permission.

Moreover, residents on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet were never invited to discuss this. The promise to bring residents together with PDAM has not been fulfilled. This is what then triggered LMDH and LPDH to protest. In fact, on Monday (5/2/2024), representatives from 8 villages, both LMDH and LPDH, including Baseh, Kalisalak, Windujaya, Melung, Ketenger, Karangmangu, Kemutug Lor and Karangsalam Lor villages raided the Banyumas DPRD.

Chairman of LMDH Gempita Ketenger Village, Purnomo, representing LMDH and LPDH, emphasized that the consultation forum which should ideally be implemented by the Pemalang Regency Government did not absorb enough information. "On the other hand, the project is still ongoing even though we see that there has been no AMDAL (environmental impact analysis)," said Purnomo during an audience with the Chairman of Commission II of the Banyumas DPRD, Subagyo.

According to him, this project will stop around 2022 and will apparently be restarted in 2024. The community is of course annoyed, because it has abandoned citizen participation. "Moreover, according to project workers, land excavation activities have cut down many trees in the protected forest. "Obviously, this is part of environmental destruction," he said.

Purnomo explained, through Presidential Decree No.79/2019, the government has determined the acceleration of development, one of which is in the Pemalang area. The activity in the local district is to build a 19 kilometer clean water network for the people of Pulosari District.

"Because it does not have a water resource area, Pemalang is looking for water sources on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet. There are three water sources included in the management area of ​​2 LMDH and 6 LPHD in the Banyumas area, specifically in Baturraden and Kedungbanteng districts. This is what causes turmoil. Moreover, we were not actively involved in the project," he said.

Project chronology 

The project began in 2017 to 2018 starting with a visit from the village government (Pemdes) throughout Pulosari District to LMDH Ketenger Village, Baturraden District. The group communicated with figures regarding plans to use water from the forest area on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet.

"Actually, in principle, neither community leaders nor the Ketenger Village Government have any objections to this plan, considering that the need for water is a very important factor for humans. "After an agreement was reached, a survey team to search for water sources was formed consisting of elements from the Ketenger Village community and the Pemalang team," he said.

The next step was to carry out a survey and it was discovered that several potential springs were administratively included in the Ketenger Village forest area. To anticipate negative impacts on water users in Banyumas Regency, the "Lembeyan" water source was determined which has a large enough discharge but does not enter the river, but returns to the ground.

"From 2019 to mid-2021, communication was still going well, especially discussing technical work implementation and commitment to forest conservation. In 2021, the Pemalang Regency Government together with PDAM Pemalang will hold a Public Consultation Forum to discuss the AMDAL document. In this forum not all interested elements of society were invited. "However, community representatives are still being formed to discuss the AMDAL session," he explained.

While the AMDAL document was still in the process of being discussed, suddenly at the beginning of 2022 the project to build a clean water network was carried out without consultation with community leaders, including the 8 LMDH Gunung Slamet Selatan as Perhutani's cooperation partners in forest management.

"Throughout 2022, protest efforts against the Regency Government and PDAM Pemalang have been carried out several times, but activities continue under the pretext that the national strategic project must be completed immediately. Until one day, a landslide occurred in the forest area of ​​Kalisalak Village, Kadungbanteng District and its surroundings. "After the landslide incident in the forest area attracted media attention, at the end of 2023, this project will stop without a clear status," he said.

But then in 2024 it appeared again, even directly asking for permission. So the stakeholders on the slopes of Mount Slamet refused. “We gave many reasons. If the forest is destroyed, we will be the first victims. And this has been proven by the landslide. We ask for justice," he stressed.

“We see that there is indeed a lack of proper licensing. "That's why we came to the DPRD, so that the council can facilitate a meeting between residents and the Pemalang Regency Government," he said.

One Voice of Rejection 

The rejection is not only in the upstream areas, but also in the downstream areas. Long ago, the Water User Farmers Association (P3A) rejected the project plan.

This was conveyed by the Head of the Banyumas Public Works Service (DPU), Kresnawan Wahyu Kristoyo, who once held a meeting with P3A. "At that meeting, P3A rejected the project," he said.

Kresnawan explained that the existing condition of the Logawa River spring is part of the spring that serves 13 irrigation areas (DI) for irrigation covering an area of ​​3,019 hectares. “Apart from that, there are still many people who do not have access to clean water. "They are spread across 6 villages, namely Baseh, Sunyalangu, Babakan, Kalisalak, Dawuhan Kulon and Dawuhan Wetan with a total of 2,278 families or more than 10 thousand people," he explained.

Moreover, Kresnawan continued, based on a study carried out by the Banyumas DPU together with the Hydrology Team at Jenderal Soedirman University (Unsoed) Purwokerto, there is a weir that originates from a spring on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet which is experiencing a water deficit.

“We conducted a study in 2022. As a result, 6 weirs, namely Gomblang, Tengah II, Tlaga, Pesandor, Curug and Metenggang, experienced a deficit. "Some start from April and May to October," he said.

In the context of the clean water project carried out by the Pemalang Regency Government, the Banyumas DPU has recommended looking at the water balance, by carrying out calculations first, especially at the lowest discharge in the dry season. "In accordance with Law No.17/2019 concerning Water Resources, the state must prioritize people's concerns regarding water, especially basic daily needs, people's agriculture and drinking water supply systems," he explained.

Meanwhile, the Banyumas Environmental Service (DLH) has also protested against the project. In fact, DLH sent a rejection letter from PT Sumarah Energi and PT Jaladri Pratama Banyumas, companies developing micro-hydro power plants (PLTMH) which use water supplies from the slopes of Mount Slamet. This letter is for consideration to the Central Java Provincial Government.

Head of DLH Banyumas, Widodo Sugiri, said that the Pemalang party was inconsistent regarding the project. The first stated that there were 6 springs with a discharge of 112 liters/second, while the requirement they proposed was 24 liters/second. “Why did they have to take all 6 springs? "Not to mention the clarity of regional or village boundaries through which the network passes," he said.

In the same place, Chairman of Commission II of the Banyumas DPRD, Subagyo, stated that even though the central government has the power, if there is no coordination with the regions, of course it must be opposed. “This is under the guise of a national strategic project. "However, if it does not respect existing rules or regulations, then it must be opposed," he stressed.

He said that based on the aspirations and views of the relevant agencies submitted to the DPRD, Banyumas still needs a water source on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet. “How is this possible, it is still needed here, instead it will be channeled to other areas, permanently. The fact is that in Banyumas, during the dry season there are two sub-districts that receive water supplies from the slopes of Mount Slamet which are starting to dry out, including Kembaran and Sokaraja. "Water from the slopes of Mount Slamet is still needed to support Banyumas," he said.

Moreover, the contract and compensation for Banyumas are unclear, so it is necessary to investigate in more depth whether there are any individuals playing. "We will investigate who the individuals are. Why ignore Banyumas?”

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