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The ‘Evolution’ of Lapindo Mudflow Mitigation Policy

On September 8, 2006, the President established Tim Nasional Penanggulangan Semburan Lumpur Panas di Sidoarjo (Timnas, National team for mudflow mitigation in Sidoarjo). Timnas was established after the signing of Keppres 13/2006. According to Keppres 13, Timnas would tenure for six months, and could be extended if needed (Keputusan Presiden 2006, Art. 7). At that time, the government thought six months was enough to handle such crisis. It seems, the government did not expect that the mud-volcano and its impacts would be as huge as we can empirically experience this present day. Of course, six months was not enough. On March 8, 2007, the President issued Presidential Decree No. 5 Year 2007 about the extension of Timnas’s tenure for a month (Keppres 5/2007).

Keppres 13 was taking into account the Act of Oil and Natural Gas (UU No. 22 Year 2001) and several preceding government regulations on mining industry.[1] This tendency continued if we look closely to the composition of Timnas’s Steering Committee [Badan Pengawas], which was lead by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources. Although the head of Operating Team [Tim Pelaksana] was an official of the Ministry of Public Work, the two prominent deputies were from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Executive Body for Oil and Natural Gas Upstream Activity Regulator [BP Migas, Badan Pelaksana Minyak dan Gas Bumi].

By looking through that composition, it was common that the President appointed governmental officials, from national level to provincial level to regent level, which were under the President’s direct command. However, it was very interesting to see the existence of Lapindo’s General Manager as a member of Operating Team. Moreover, Keppres 13 mentions that the establishment of Timnas would not reduce the liabilities of Lapindo Brantas Inc. to perform mitigation and recovery of environmental damages and social problems (Art. 5). In addition, Keppres 13 commands Lapindo to cover any expenses of Timnas (Art. 6) in order to carry out some tasks: to shut the mud eruption off, to control the mudflow, and to overcome the social problems (Art. 3).

As we can see, Timnas was working not under natural disaster management; rather, it worked under a consideration of “mining industry accident”—the mudflow in Sidoarjo was due to Lapindo’s exploration well of Banjar Panji-1. However, such position was shifted with the birth of Perpres 14 on April 8, 2007 (Perpres 14/2007).

Perpres 14, or the Presidential Regulation No 14 Year 2007, was the legal basis for the establishment of BPLS that replaced Timnas (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 19). For its rationales, Perpres 14 included the Act of Oil and Natural Gas (UU No. 22 Year 2001), but deleted the other governmental regulations on mining safety. From the grounding regulations,[2] we can see that there was a major paradigm shift from “industrial accident management” (Keppres 13) to “environmental and spatial management” (Perpres 14).

Perpres 14 was divided into three important parts. The first part was the structure of BPLS and its duties (Art. 1—14). The second part, which will be discussed more intensively in this paper, was dealing with the handling of societal problems (Art. 15). The last part was about the employment of BPLS (Art. 16—18).

Similar to Timnas, BPLS structure is divided into two main committees: Steering Committee [Dewan Pengarah] and Operating Committee [Badan Pelaksana]. The paradigm shift, somehow, also influenced to the structure of the BPLS (c.f. Timnas). Acting as BPLS’s Steering Committee chief is the Minister of Public Work, and as the deputy chief is the Minister of Social Affairs. The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, who lead Timnas’s Steering Committee, becomes only a member of Steering Committee (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 3). Further, there is no more Lapindo’s representation in BPLS structure. The assignment of the BPLS’s Operating Committee is more specific than Timnas; apart from the Head, Deputy Head, and Secretary, there are also divisions, such as, Operational Division, Social Division, and Infrastructure Division.[3]

There is no significant different between BPLS and Timnas main tasks, which are: 1) to shut the eruption off, 2) to control the mudflow, and 3) to overcome the social and infrastructure problems (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 1 [2]; cf. Keputusan Presiden 2006, Art. 3). However, different from Timnas, Lapindo does not obligate to fund BPLS expenses, but the National Budget (APBN) does (Art. 14 [1]) together with the BPLS’s members remuneration (Art. 14 [2]). Somehow, Perpres 14 obligates Lapindo to responsible to fund at least for two things: of shutting off the mud eruption (Art. 9c) and of handling the social problems (Art. 10c). The Perpres mentions that Lapindo is responsible to finance the shutting the eruption off and the embankments building and mud management, channelling the mudflow to Porong River (Art. 15 [5]). However, Perpres 14 does not mention any detail information concerning on how those measures should be taken.

On the handling of social problems section, which has direct impacts to the victims’ lives, Perpres 14 compels Lapindo to purchase impacted lands and buildings that had included in the “March-22-Map” (Art. 15 [1])[4] with a mechanism that had been agreed and implemented to the “December-4-Map” (Art. 15 [2]).[5] Lapindo should purchase the lands and buildings gradually according to a mechanism of 20 per cent paid in advance and the balance should be paid no later than one month before two-year period from the first payment runs out.[6] However, it was also mentioned that the government should allocate the National Budget (APBN) to handle new impacted areas “outside” the March-22-Map (Art. 15 [3]) and the infrastructure problems (Art. 15 [6]).

Peta Area Terdampak Lumpur Lapindo per-tanggal 22 Maret 2007
Peta Area Terdampak Lumpur Lapindo per-tanggal 22 Maret 2007

The last part of Perpres 14 was mentioning about BPLS’s employee management, which was not so important for the victims. However, I found one important thing that was missed in Perpres 14, that is, no mentioning of working period of BPLS. Perhaps, the reason was, the BPLS’s employee status was “conjunct civil servants” (PNS yang diperbantukan) (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 16 [2]). Interestingly, this status has been changed to “employed civil servants“ (PNS yang dipekerjakan) in 2011 (Peraturan Presiden 2011, Art. 16 [2]), of which members’ term is five years and may be extended for another one term (Art. 17 [3]). In other word, along with the signing of Perpres 68 in September 2011, BPLS became a permanent body in government.

As the mudflow is getting larger, the impacted areas are also expanding. To response such fact, until today, they were four times amendments of Perpres 14; they are on July 17, 2008 (Perpres 48/2008), on September 23, 2009 (Perpres 40/2009), on September 27, 2011 (Perpres 68/2011), and on April 5, 2012 (Perpres 37/2012). The major changes of the Perpres 14 are mainly happened to Article 15. However, in 2009, there is a small but important change to Article 9c about the task of Operational Division. In the original it was written:

“melakukan pengendalian operasi upaya penanggulangan semburan lumpur yang dilaksanakan oleh PT Lapindo Brantas” [to perform operational management to control mud eruption conducted by Lapindo Brantas]. (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 9c)

In 2009, along with the issuing of Perpres 40, the phrase “yang dilaksanakan oleh PT Lapindo Brantas” was removed (Peraturan Presiden 2009, Art. 9c). This changes was linear to the government’s statement of “giving up” [menyerah] for any effort to shut off the mud eruption and began to concentrate for handling social impacts and relocating public infrastructures in September 2008 (GSA 2008; cf. Novenanto 2010b).

The major change of Article 15 of Perpres 14 was only about the expanding uninhabitable areas surrounding the huge mud lake. There were more and more areas that were included in the map (“masuk peta”); the government will purchase lands and building in that new area outside March-22-Map (Peraturan Presiden 2007, Art. 15 [3]; Peraturan Presiden 2008b, Art. 15a). The value of these new lands and buildings were fitted with considering sense of justice (mempertimbangkan rasa keadilan) to those who were paid by Lapindo Brantas (Peraturan Presiden 2008b, Article 15b [6]). Those purchased lands and buildings will be State Property (Barang Milik Negara) (Peraturan Presiden 2008b, Art. 15c [1]), of which the Ministry of Finance as Manager (Pengelola) and BPLS as User (Pengguna) (Art. 15c [2]). However, it is not clear for what purpose the mud lake will be used.[7] Apart from the rights of selling their lands and buildings, the victims would also get 2-years-house-rent aid, living allowance for 6 months, and evacuation aid (Peraturan Presiden 2009, Art. 15b [9]).[8]

According to Karyadi, Soegiarto, and Harnanto (2012, 5), representing BPLS, there has been twice approach shifts in perspective of mitigating Lapindo mud disaster, from “keep the mud away from the people” (taken by Timnas, 2006—2007) to “keep the people away from mud” (early BPLS, 2007—2009) to, finally, “living in harmony with mud” (BPLS, 2009—now). This last approach was taken due to the high cost to implement the second approach (Karyadi, Soegiarto, and Harnanto 2012, 4). It explains why there was no new impacted area between 2009 and 2012. In 2011, Perpres 68, for instance, did not mention about new impacted areas; rather, it mentioned the need to establish Tim Terpadu (Integrated Team) for measuring new uninhabitable areas (Peraturan Presiden 2011, Art. 15b [1b]). Based on Tim Terpadu’s findings, in 2012 there were more uninhabitable areas included in the map (“masuk peta”) (Peraturan Presiden 2012, Art. 15b [1c]). However, the recent focus of BPLS is more on how to manage the harmonic living with mud.

 © Anton Novenanto | 2013

[1] The regulations included were the Government Regulation of Regulating and Control Safety in Mining Sector (Peraturan Pemerintah [PP] No. 19 Year 1973), the Government Regulation of Safety in Oil and Natural Gas Refining and Processing (PP No. 11 Year 1979), and the Government Regulation of Upstream Oil and Natural Gas Activity (PP No. 35 Year 2004, PP No. 34 Year 2005) (see Keputusan Presiden 2006).

[2] The Act of Spatial Management (UU No. 24 Year 1992), the Act of Environmental Management (UU No. 23 Year 1997), and the Act of Local Government (UU No. 32 Year 2004, UU No. 8 Year 2005) (see Peraturan Presiden 2007).

[3] Together with the signing of Perpres 14, the President also signs Presidential Decree No 31/M Year 2007 about the designation of BPLS Operating Committee members; they are: Sunarso (Head), Hardi Prasetyo (Deputy Head), Adi Sarwoko (Secretary), Mochamad Soffian Hadi Djojopranoto (Deputy of Operational), Sutjahjono Soejitno (Deputy of Social), and Karyadi (Deputy of Infrastructure). All members of the BPLS are appointed and dismissed by the President (see Keputusan Presiden 2007b). Interestingly, in 2008 there was another Presidential Regulation stating the remunerations of BPLS’s members, that are equal to government officials of Echelon I (Perpres 13/2008).

[4] In this sense, the victims will only receive compensations based on their possessions of lands and buildings (the physical losses) and nothing for the social and ecological damages, also psychological problems of the victims (Novenanto 2010b, 3).

[5] Lapindo’s statement of agreement to pay is officially written in the company’s letter to Timnas (December 4, 2006) (Lapindo Brantas 2006). In that letter, Lapindo mentions that the inclination to compensate the residents is based on “social and moral responsibility” [kepedulian sosial dan tanggung jawab moral]. As we can see, that letter grounds the social handling mechanism in the Perpres 14, and the following regulations. According to Lapindo (2011a), the company also gave the victims 2-years-rent aid (uang kontrak), 6-months living allowance (jatah hidup), and evacuation aid (uang pindah).

[6] The implementation was not as smooth as it should be. According to Lapindo’s report (2011a), the company claims that they got 13,194 documents in total. Of those documents, by the time The Report published (May 2011), Lapindo claims 13,152 documents had been paid a 20 percent down payment with 80 percent payment in progress. Thus, by May 2011, Lapindo had spent IDR 5.7 trillion [c.a. USD 596m], of which IDR 2.7 trillion [c.a. USD 283m] was allocated for purchasing lands and buildings (Lapindo Brantas 2011a, 14). In addition, according to BPLS, until November 2011, Lapindo had paid IDR 2.9 trillion [c.a. USD 321m] from the total that had to be paid to the residents of IDR 3.8 trillion [c.a. USD 421m] (Badan Pelaksana BPLS 2011, Point B.1.a).

[7] The last gossip I heard within people in Porong and the environmentalists, the government will commercialize it as geological tourism attraction, similar to Bledug Kuwu in Central Java and mud-volcanoes in Azerbaijan. See also the website of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (Anon. 2010).

[8] See footnote #7.

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