TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Banten Governor Wahidin Halim affirmed that his team will work closely with the Banten Police to clamp down on illegal gold mines in Lebak District.
"Illegal mining might not be the only factor that triggers flash floods. However, when it does cause harm to people, we should take legal measures," Halim said on Monday.
The governor has also instructed Banten's environmental and forestry office to study possible mercury contamination in the area, following a report of the Mount Halimun Salak National Park that farm and fishery products in the region were contaminated with hazardous material used in gold mines.
The authority will also conduct surveillance over the spread of mercury in the province, Halim noted.
Head of the environmental office M. Husni Hasan confirmed to having worked in coordination with the Banten Police to crackdown on illegal mining in Lebak District.
The police has set a police line and guarded the area, Hasan stated.
The flooding that struck Lebak District, triggered by the overflowing of Ciberang River on the downstream of the Mount Halimun Salak National Park, claimed 10 lives in Lebak Gedong Sub-district and severely damaged 1,060 houses, 28 bridges, and 19 schools.
Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Doni Monardo stated that massive gold mines in the area of Mount Halimun Salak National Park were causal to the flash flood.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), during his visit to a flash flood-hit village in Lebak Gedong Sub-district last week, had instructed the local authority to put a halt to illegal gold mines that had fuelled deforestation in Banten Province to avoid the relapse of flash floods in future.
"In Lebak District, Banten, we can see forest encroachment for illegal mining. I have ordered the governor and district head to stop this," Jokowi remarked.