Floods Inundate IKN Nusantara Project Area
TEMPO.CO, Penajam - Sepaku district, ring one area or the central government hub in the new capital city of Nusantara, was hit by flooding on Friday, March 17. Roads, houses, and rice fields that were ready to be harvested were inundated. A resident named Pandi, whose house is located approximately 1 kilometer from the zero point of the IKN and close to the upstream of the Sepaku River, claimed that rain did not drench the area on Thursday night.
The 50-year-old man said his house area is prone to flooding every year. Floods occur one to two times a year. However, he said, the floods receded more slowly since the construction of the IKN project commenced. “The floodwater level keeps rising until the afternoon,” said Pandi, who is the indigenous people of Suku Balik.
The Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of North Penajam Paser Regency confirmed that floods had hit three neighborhood units or RT in Sepaku Village due to the overflow of the Sepaku River following high-intensity rains in the upstream area. Residential houses in the low zones and around the river banks were inundated.
RT 03 Sepaku area was the worst affected by the floods. At least 20 houses were inundated with a water level of 40-50 centimeters. BPBD noted that from 2019 to January 2022, floods had 15 times hit several Sepaku areas; in Sukaraja Village, Karang Jinawi, Binuang, Sepaku Sub-District, and Pemaluan Sub-District.
Jubain, head of the Indigenous Balik Tribe in the Pemaluan Sub-District, said the Thursday’s floods in his area were the worst since 2010. “Perhaps the height could reach 1.5 meters,” he said.
He suspected that the floods occurred due to the activities of industrial forest concession (HTI) companies in the river upstream. “They destroy our forest,” said Jubain.
Sibukdin, the head of the Indigenous Balik Tribe in Sepaku village, said floods have occurred since the exploitation of land in the upstream area of the Sepaku River in the 1960s causing the river to be shallow and narrow. “Since then, this area is often hit by floods every two to three years,” he said.
According to him, the flooding in Sepaku was exacerbated by the IKN project construction. The floods have also receded longer since then. He assessed that it was because of the building of the Sepaku River Intake prepared as a raw water supply for the IKN. The project location is adjacent to the residents' rice fields.
Based on the National Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) data, the ring one area of IKN reaches 180,965 hectares. The areas have 162 mining concessions, HTI companies, companies that own forest concession rights (HPH), oil palm plantations, coal-fired power plant projects, and property areas. As many as 158 of the 162 concessions were coal pits which still left 94 gaping mine pits.