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Sun, April 10 2011 10:57
People of Padarincang Against the Water Commodification

PT Tirta Investama, the Indonesian largest bottled water company, is planning to construct its new production plant in Cirahab, Padarincang located in District Serang, Province of Banten. PT Tirta Investama held the majority shares( 99,79%) of PT Aqua Golden Mississippi Tbk (AQUA), 74% of which are held by PT.Danone Asia Pte Ltd, which just delisted from the Indonesia Stock Exchange and became a private company (Kontan, 23/12/2010).

Now, the company stated that their posponed (again) their plan to build a new factory in Padarincang and waiting for local government to deal with people's objection. Villagers saw this as another manuver to put people vis a vis local elites.
The construction plan was resisted by communities living in the villages surrounding the water resources since 2008 and the plan was postponed. However, the company keep approaching the local government till they allowed again operating in 2010; one of the company’s efforts was taking the regent of Serang (the capital of Padarincang) together with governor of Banten Province in a tour to Paris, France where DANONE’s central office located.

Simultaneously from 5th  to 20th December, ten thousand people from 7 villages of sub-district Padarincang, Serang Banten, Indonesia marched to disputed area provided by local government to PT.Tirta Investama. The march came as a result from people’s anger and frustration due to ignorance of local authority to people’s objection to company’s plan to expand its 13th factory.

The local resistance to ground water extraction and commodification based from local-traditional believes that water is not just a source of life, but also the a gift  from God- which must be protected and maintained from any form of destruction and any attempt to privatize the water must be resisted.

Local’s fears of drought if the exploitation plan do not stopped are not without merit. This can be seen from the experiences of other regions such as Sukabumi and Klaten in which the water wells dried, and the volume of surface water is also reduced. In the village of Kuta, Sukabumi, residents have to dig wells to a depth of 18 meters, whereas before people just dig as deep as 10 meters only. While in Klaten, Central Java, to meet the water needs agricultur, the farmers had to pump groundwater, surface water was previously flow naturally from springs of Kapilaler and Sigedang and it was sufficient for agricultural irrigation.

In addition, there is no doubt that the exploitation of ground water in large numbers simultaneously, will cause deterioration of land (land subsidence). And a decrease in soil on the underground water basin will have dire consequences, since it is where all the events such as process hydro geological recharge, drainage, and ground water discharge take place naturally.

Ten thosands of villagers came from area of Padarincang, Serang, Banten marhed  against government’s plan allowing the company to extract ground water resources, the major threat to their subsistence agriculture and also against traditional believes that water is mother of live-must not be treated as commodity.

Related to this matter, GRAPPAD (Gerakan Rakyat Anti Pembangunan Pabrik Aqua Danone/People’s Movement Anti Aqua Danone’s Plant) and KRuHA (People’s Coalition for the Right to Water), WALHI (Friends of The Earth-Indonesia), LBH etc demand the government to:

  • Cancel the permit that given to PT Tirta Investama to extract underground water resource in Cirahab, Padarincang, Banten.
  • Make all the related information transparent for all villagers.
  • Aknowledge the water resource in Cirahab as a Common.
  • Stop any activities related with the construction plan.

While for Indonesian and international public, we urges you to:

  • Release your share at PT Tirta Investama or PT Aqua Golden Mississippi Tbk, if you have any.
  • Do anything you can, as either consumers or shareholders of PT Aqua Golden Mississippi Tbk, to demand the company to express villagers’ resistance to PT Tirta Investama (as your information, PT Aqua Golden Mississippi is a private company and should not be allowed to manage public resource)
  • Express your solidarity and support by sending mail, email or fax of protest to all related parties (PT Tirta Investama or PT Aqua Golden Mississippi Tbk, Government at local and national level) whose addresses are provided below. You may use the template form provided in the attachment or make your own statement.

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