Thu, 30 Aug 2001

Kedung Ombo upsets governor

YOGYAKARTA: Central Java governor Maj. Gen. (ret) Mardiyanto expressed his anger on Tuesday with a threat by residents' to drain Kedung Ombo dam unless compensation for land they relinquished for construction of the dam was paid soon.

"There are many other people in the area who are opposed to the threat," he told reporters after a ceremony launching the Urban Quality Program at Yogyakarta's Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Mardiyanto, who was elected governor in 1998, even claimed that the complaint by Kedung Ombo villagers was not united in a single voice. He cited as an example two villagers, Darsono and Parno, who had disagreed about the plan to drain the dam.

"Don't talk about issues concerning Kedung Ombo if you don't know the culture of Kedung Ombo people. I know the culture well," he added.

Construction of the dam, covering an area of 6,576 hectares of land in the regencies of Boyolali, Sragen and Grobogan, started in 1985. Since then, the government has been overwhelmed by protests from land owners regarding the compensation.

Some 1,000 villagers renewed their protest last week, demanding that the government pay the remaining amount of compensation for their land.

Mardiyanto accused the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) as having overreacted in the Kedung Ombo case.

The dam project cost almost US$181 million, $156 million of which was obtained from World Bank loans. (44)