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Floods Inundate IKN Nusantara Project Area

21 March 2023 11:08 WIB

Endemic Trees Replaced with Industrial Plants

Pradarma Rupang, a researcher from East Kalimantan Jatam, said Sepaku District as the core area of the IKN has a high threat of flooding. He explained that heavy-intensity rains always lead to flooding in the first ring area of the IKN, namely Sukaraja, Sepaku, Bumi Harapan, and Pemaluan.

He suspected that the exploitation of land by HTI companies in the river upstream weakens the supporting plants to hold water. “East Kalimantan's endemic trees have turned into industrial plants,” said Pradarma. “This change causes land degradation so that the water goes straight into the river.”

Pradarma predicted that the IKN project will cause more frequent flooding as many trees will be cut down. He acknowledged that the government has plans to control flooding by building the Sepaku River Intake project. “Unfortunately, this project also causes flooding. It even damages the ancestral graves and ritual sites of the Balik tribe,” he said.

Anggi Prayogi Putra, a researcher from Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), said his agency had warned of a high potential for flooding in the IKN area since 2019. The study in 2021 stated that flooding in Sepaku Subdistrict is caused by high rainwater intensity, slope, and changes in forest cover.

The environmental group argued that the main factors of the flooding are extractive industry activities and the construction of the IKN project. “High rainfall is indeed among the factors, but not a trigger for flooding,” said Anggi.

He explained that the area around the first ring of the IKN has been controlled by extractive industries, such as mining, HPH, HTI, and oil palm plantations. Land exploitation causes endemic trees as the main buffer for rainwater to be replaced or lost, leading to lower absorption of the River Basin Area (DAS).

“It's different if the forest cover is still maintained. Water will be stored and will not be immediately discharged into the middle or downstream,” Anggi said.

The construction of the Intake Sepaku project also triggered flooding as it reduced the ability of the soil to absorb water. When high-intensity rains come, rainwater is immediately wasted on the waterways. “So, floods immediately occur,” he concluded.



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