M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – Environmental group Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) on Monday highlighted the flooding that devastated East Kalimantan's north Sangatta and south Sangatta, which is suspected to be caused by the mining activities conducted by Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC).
"It isn't difficult to connect [the events] considering that the forest areas at Sangatta river's upstream area has been cut to the ground by KPC and the hills are dug into major mining pits," said east Kalimantan Jatam researcher Pradarma Rupang on March 21.
On March 20, 2022, Jatam noted that 16,896 residents in two sub districts North Sangatta and South Sangatta were devastated by floods that lasted for three days.
According to Pradarma, the flooding in the regions is not a new occurrence as in 2021, people residing there experienced a catastrophic flood in March, which was considered to be the worst in 20 years. Pradarma implied that the natural disasters are directly linked to the land openings for large scale mining sites.
Jatam suspects that Kaltim Prima Coal's massive production is behind the major flooding. "Each year, KPC produces 60 million metric tons of coal with 75 percent of the products ending up exported overseas," said Pradarma.
Moreover, Jatam argues that KPC is not worthy of the award under the Environmental Performance Rating Program (PROPER) granted by the Minister of Environments and Forestry and calls for the government to audit the mining firm and rehabilitate the forest areas that have turned into mining pits.