Mining advocacy group accuses anti-graft agency of being tool of big business

CNN Indonesia – March 20, 2021
Fly ash and bottom ash from Ombilin Coal-fired Power Plant in Sumatra – Undated (LBH Padang)

Jakarta – The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) has accused the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) of becoming a tool of big business over is recommendation that coal waste – fly ash and bottom ash or FABA – be removed from the list of toxic and hazardous materials (B3).

"The KPK has become a tool of business interests, between the big companies that want to take advantage of it and the interests of coal mining companies which want to get rid of the burden [of managing the waste]", JATIM National Coordinator Merah Johansyah told CNN Indonesia on Friday March 19.

Johansyah said that the government's decision to remove the FABA from the B3 category cannot just be considered in terms of the potential for corruption but removing coal waste from the B3 category will also have dangerous impacts on health and the environment.

From their experiences advocating many cases of environmental pollution, Johansyah said that they often found violations in the management of FABA waste by corporations. Yet at the time, FABA was still included in the B3 category.

According to Johansyah, the problem in this case is not just about corruption and he is urging the KPK to publicise the study which recommended removing coal waste from the B3 list to the public.

Johansyah also criticised the Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK) for following the KPK's recommendation. He accused the KLHK of not considering the environmental aspects and becoming an accomplice of the corporations.

"Clearly in this case the KLHK has became an accomplice of business interests. Because it failed to consider the environmental impact of removing the B3 label from FABA", he said.

Acting KPK spokesperson Ipi Maryati Kuding meanwhile explained that the KPK's recommendation was based on a quick study on FABA management at coal-fired power plants (PLTU) owned by the state-owned electricity company PT PLN in 2020.

"The results of the study are contained in a policy brief on the management of FABA to make it more beneficial and provide economic value, as well as not increasing electricity tariffs", Kuding told CNN Indonesia.

Kuding said that the results of the study were then conveyed to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on November 20, 2020. One of the recommendations was that FABA be removed from the B3 category.

Kuding said that the KPK will explain the complete results of the study later. He argued that the KPK is only carrying out its duties in monitoring state administration in accordance with the KPK law.

Earlier, Widodo decided to remove FABA from the list of B3 waste through Government Regulation Number 22/2021 on the Implementation and Management of Environmental Protection.

The decision attracted criticism because it is believed that it will loosen the supervision of waste management from PLTUs.

The KLHK explained that it will enforce the law against those who are discovered violating the regulations in the management of FABA waste. (fey/fra)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "JATAM Tuding KPK Jadi Alat Perusahaan soal Limbah Batu Bara".]