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Water project displaces hundreds of Indonesians

BEKASI, 2 Dec 09 — Hundreds of Indonesians living along the Kalimalang Canal were displaced. Local shops serving as primary source of income for local families were demolished. According to local NGOs, the massive displacement is connected to the ADBfunded Citarum water resource management project.

About to be demolished. Photo by Diana Goeltom/DebtwatchIn a statement issued today, the People’s Alliance on Citarum, known locally as Aliansi Rakyat untuk Citarum (ARUM), said the series of forced displacements since July of this year have been done without compensation provided to affected people. ARUM alledged, “the brutal displacement” is tightly related [to] the Integrated Citarum Water Resource Management Investment Program (ICWRMIP) funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Amrul Mustopa of the Bekasi-based NGO El-Kail said the the displacements of families happened during the months of July, August, September and the most recent one in 13 November. “The brutal displacements were always so sudden, and always ended up with the people clashing with the Satpol PP [the one executing the displacement],” he said. “It was no surprise that the people had strongly refused the porcess of abolishing their home[s], private properties and livelihood without any compensation,” he added.

Debtwatch, a member of ARUM, said that they have conducted dialogues with the ADB since March 2008 and submitted an analysis of the project’s resettlement plan which the Bank ignored. “The resettlement plan of the ICWRMIP is misleading since [it] does not provide an adequate and accountalbe estimat[e] number of peole [who] will be affected by the project, directly or indirectly,” Diana Goeltom of Debtwatch said.

Rows of houses along the Kalimalang Canal before the July demolition. Photo by Diana Goeltom/DebtwatchAccording to Goeltom, there is no clear program and relocation place for the households who have been displaced by the project. The document mentioned that there will only be 872 households that will be displaced by the project. “But by assessing the field, we clearly saw that there will be more people who will be affected than the number that was mentioned in the document, especially when we saw the people who are living and having their livelihood along the embankment of Kalimalang,” Goeltom added.

ARUM also cited cases where people have been displaced on the basis of squatting. One local person who requested not to be named said, “I have lived here since 1970 along with my family. I bought the land with an official letter from the authorit[ies].” He opened a small shop in front of their house. But now, he doesn’t know where they should go. “What should I do now? My shop is being demolished. How am I going to feed my family?” His family is one of the many that is not included in the ADB’s list of 872 households that will be affected by the project.

ARUM is planning to file a complaint through the ADB’s Accountability Mechanism. “The displacment of households is violating the ADB’s own [Safeguards] policy; hence, we will help the affected people file the complaint to ADB’s Accountability Mechanism,” ARUM coordinato Dadang Sudardja said.

In April 2009, the ADB approved a $500-million loan to the government of Indonesia for the rehabiliation of the Citarum river under the Bank’s Multi-tranche Financing Facility (MFF). The first tranche of the ICWRMIP was allocated for the rehabilitation of the West Tarum Canal, well known as the Kalimalang Canal, that passes throught the districts of Karawang and Bekasi, and Bekasi City


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