TEMPO.CO, Kapuas Hulu - At least three severe floods submerged parts of Kapuas Hulu Regency, West Kalimantan, this year. Some people considered it abnormal.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB) data showed that Kapuas Hulu is not the only West Kalimantan area hit by the impacts of massive forest clearing and destruction, such as overflows of Kapuas and Melawi rivers.
“Some people say that their area was never flooded before, but they are flooded this year. So not a few are unprepared, which results in significant material losses,” said Hermas R. Mering, an environmental activist in Kapuas Hulu, Monday, November 15.
Hermas cited the data from the Kapuas Hulu Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) in September 2021 that floods submerged up to 10 sub-districts. The figure increased to 12 sub-districts this November as of Monday, and more than 12,000 families of 38,000 people were affected.
According to him, the flood-hit sub-districts are dominated by oil palm plantations belonging to companies and non-governmental organizations. They are Selimbau, Semitau, Silat Hilir, Batang Lupar, and Badau sub-districts.
“Climate change, forest clearing, uncontrolled land use, and the silting of rivers contribute to flooding,” said Hermas who is also the Secretary of the Kapuas Hulu Civil Society Organization Forum.
He went on to say that forest clearing occurring since the 1970s through Forest Concession Rights (HPH) has recently been accelerated with the presence of the permit on the utilization of timber products (IUPHHK) in natural forests (IUPHHK-HA).
Nevertheless, Hermas argued that it is unnecessary to blame or even condemn each other. What is needed now is to think and act together, “that encourage the principles of sustainable development so that major floods and other natural disasters will not recur.”