Independent News from Alternative Sources
Hundreds of residents from four villages on the slopes of Mount Merapi in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, have taken it into their own hands to stop illegal sand mining near their homes and demand that Sleman regency take firm action.
Illegal sand mining near Mount Merapi.
They also took a stand by driving out heavy machinery from the sand quarry.
“We demand the heavy machinery be pulled out today,” said rally coordinator Maryono, during an event dubbed “the people’s hearing” at an intersection in Candi hamlet, Purwobinangun, Sleman, on Tuesday.
The protesters — hailing from Girikerto, Wonokerto, Purwobina-ngun and Hargobinangun villages — included housewives, teenagers and adults and called themselves the Concerned Residents Forum.
They also cut down several trees and used the trunks to block hundreds of sand trucks from leaving Purwobinangun, including those belonging to the Army’s ZENI Engineering Directorate.
One of the residents, Tono, said the illegal sand mining had encroached onto scores of hectares of farmland.
“Every day, more than 500 trucks come here and take sand,” said Tono.
He added the sand miners started exploiting areas around the villages, which are water-catchment areas, since sand quarrying in the nearby Boyong River was banned in 2011.
As a result of the illegal activity, the water levels of residents’ wells have dropped.
Residents brought officials from the village offices, the police and the Sleman regency administration to the rally to demand they take responsibility. The residents voiced their disappointment because they have been expressing their protest since September 2014 but had yet to get a response from the government, although Sleman Water and Mineral Resources Office head Sapto Winarno issued on Oct. 1, 2014 a letter banning the illegal sand mining.
Pakem District Police Comr. Sudaryanto, Pakem Military Command chief Capt. Sunardi and Sleman Public Order Agency chief Rusdi Rais could not do anything of significance in response to the people’s demands.
Sudaryanto was unable to persuade the sand miners, backed by dozens of hoodlums, to move the excavators.
Besides damaging the environment, residents are also angry because the sand trucks have damaged the area’s main road, which is their primary Mt. Merapi eruption evacuation route. The sand-mining site is included in the disaster-risk area.
Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Yogyakarta chapter director Halik Sandera said the Sleman regency administration should stop the illegal sand mining, otherwise it would lead to a decline in the water reserves of Yogyakarta city and Bantul regency.
Sleman Public Order Agency law enforcement section head Rusdi Rais did not deny the lack of coordination by the regency administration and law enforcement agencies, resulting in the continuation of the illegal sand mining.
At the time of writing, the residents were still trying to drive out the 18 excavators from the sand-mining location, but were hampered as miners continued sending in hoodlums.
“We will remain to force out all the excavators. We don’t want to be disappointed again,” said Maryono.
Author: Bambang Muryanto