Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) firmly believes that the government's decision to no longer deem coal fly ash and bottom ash (FABA) as B3 hazardous waste benefits the interests of investors.
They argue this as excluding the two coal waste types from the list of health hazards would greatly reduce a company's production cost due to cheaper waste management expenses and blatantly disregards the environment.
"Who eventually cheers this decision? Investors. Because the production target of coal is increasing and these types of waste are eventually not considered B3 waste," said the Central Kalimantan Walhi executive director, Dimas Novian Hartono, in a virtual discussion on Sunday, March 14.
Walhi believes that this would attract more investors but will loosen waste management issues at the industry's downstream and eventually worsen the environmental impact. They claim many reports show leaks in waste shelters due to overcapacity problems that directly threatens the livelihood of the people living nearby coal production sites.
Dimas regrets that the interests of investors have overcome the government's authority to protect its people and the environment.
The national director of Walhi, Nur Hidayat, echoes Dimas' sentiments and stated that excluding the two specific coal wastes from the list of hazardous items is strictly not a circular economy. "The government has misunderstood the issue and waste utilization is not the real concept of circular economy," said Nur.
The Government's Regulation No. 22/2021 on protecting and managing the environment is a direct derivative of the passing of the omnibus Job Creation Law that now no longer identifies coal FABA as dangerous.