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The story of Rejecting Coal Mining from the Slopes of the Blue Hills

This dirt-floored hut contains piles of manure. From this hut looks towering mountain. People used to call Blue Hill, located in Loa Kulu District, Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan.

It is at the foot of this hill that the coal is stored which the miners are fighting over. Legimin, Head of RT9 of Sumber Sari Village, said that the Kutai Kartanegara Government has designated the village, which is predominantly inhabited by transmigrants from Java, as an agricultural barn.

In that village, 90% of the residents are farmers. They grow rice, vegetables, fish and animal husbandry, all of which are available here.

“Agriculture is complete,” he said.

Many residents of RT 9 do cattle farming in Loa Kulu. “Farmers save money . Every day we save grass. We don’t get money. A year or two just become money.”

Tarno, a farmer in Sumber Sari Village, said he chose to grow vegetables. He manages one hectare of land, growing leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, lettuce, basil.

Almost every day harvest vegetables. The turnover is tens of millions of rupiah in one harvest.

Cattle and vegetables are equally beneficial for residents. In RT 7, there are group and independent managers of cattle farms.

Because of the title of maintaining the agricultural system, this village has received various awards with a population of 3,800 people.

The National Police Chief gives an award as a tough village. The Kodim also designated the mainstay village and DLH Kukar in 2018 as climate villages.

Sutarno, Head of the Sumber Sari Village said, when COVID-19 people were busy with food, but the people of this village were not affected. “Yesterday the regent procured rice, I was able to find about 30 tons to help other areas,” he said.

It is called a tough village with the title of the National Police, said Legimin, because of the community’s achievements in maintaining food storage during the peak of COVid-19.

“Got number one yesterday in East Kalimantan.”

Residents were also given 700 applications for free certificates from the government. Another success from here is as a tourism village since 2013.

In the village there is a rumor that there will be a mine coming in. Residents are moving to find ways to reject the mine. The mine point is right in their agricultural strategic area.

Since 2011, they have rejected the presence of PT Borneo Mitra Sejahtera (BMS). Coal mining companies whose licenses are issued to the Government of Kutai Kartanegara.

With the nickname of a tourist village, it might be difficult for mines to enter.

Is society unanimously against coal mining? According to Legimin, initially it split into two. There are those who refuse and there are residents who secretly accept.

The company’s way of dividing residents through the issue of land ownership. This method is commonly used by mining companies in East Kalimantan. Both large and small scale mines.

The company uses the name of a person who is said to be the previous owner of the residents’ land. This person claimed to have obtained the rights from the Kedaton Kutai Kartanegara, claiming control over 170 hectares of land owned by residents with official status.

It is from the hands of these people that the BMS company deals with buying land to be mined. This claimed land continues to be granted to several residents to take care of it. “So, our residents clashed with our citizens too,” he said.

In fact, Legimin once collected 25 certificates belonging to residents. “I legalized it to BPN, it was recognized,” he said.

He said the residents had never received a fee that was referred to as a repayment from the company.

From his experience as RT head for two terms since 2012, he saw one of the threats and terror from thugs. In the past, he said, only RT9 was strong against mines.

Some residents are lured to get a free PDAM installation. Residents in RT 9 remained unified in rejecting the offer.

“If anyone wants to be considered as an enemy.”

In fact, several other RTs installed PDAMs free of charge from the company.

Residents then found the company’s environmental impact analysis (Amdal) document.

In the amdal, said Legimin, the community had expressed their approval as evidenced by the residents’ signatures.

“In fact, residents reject all.”

Not to mention, in the Amdal it was stated that there were no settlements in the area to be demolished.

The heavy equipment had already arrived in the next village when BMS claimed to have acquired some of the land. When crossing the land the villagers blocked the heavy equipment.

He told to turn home but the company operator still wouldn’t. Residents hit the key to the heavy equipment. Tari was then reported to the Police as the destruction of heavy equipment. Legimin was summoned to the police station on behalf of the residents.

Legimin said that actually the company destroyed the people’s land first. “Entering without permission. The coffee trees have been removed. The residents’ vegetables were evicted when they were about to be harvested.”

At that time, the police did not proceed with this case because the company had previously destroyed residents’ land.


Now, residents of Sumber Sari have an agreement that the village head, or the elected neighborhood unit (RT) must refuse to mine. If the village head or RT is caught accepting gifts and is proven to be supporting the mine, the villagers will remove them. “The main requirement to be a leader is to refuse mining,” said Legimin.

Sutarno, Head of Sumber Sari Village who has served since 2019, said that if people support the mine, they will be abandoned.

The village head also has the same principles as the residents and the RT head. “We support the residents because they have rejected mining from the start,” he said.

The reason for the refusal was simple, he said, because it was a living place with farms and water sources.

He said the river is a source of agricultural irrigation for rice fields and aquaculture.

Moreover, said the head of the village of waste management and the environment is not clear. “At least dig, stay. If you just dig, the residents refuse.”

As the village government, he said, both of them wanted no mines. “The struggle is also not easy. Start a meeting, demo. Demopun the dynamics like that. We’ve already kicked them out but they’re still on their way.”

The story about Legimin’s rise to the position of RT head started when the previous RT head turned out to secretly support mining.

Residents tried to bring the previous RT head to the hall, but because they often avoided it, they held discussions without the RT present.

“It’s not finished yet, the position is immediately removed, I was his deputy for four years. I was immediately raised,” said the 52-year-old man.

He was chosen by residents to defend agricultural land and fight against mining. Now, Legimin has served two terms.

Legimin is keen to fight against any mining plans that will enter the village. Legimin and other community leaders are working to build a strict security system.

They screened villagers who were allowed to participate in discussions on important matters in the village related to the struggle against mining.

Expel illegal mines

In 2020, a resident met Legimin. The resident said that there were people who would mine the stone for the need to build a house. The person who ordered to meet the RT head was the owner of an anonymous company.

The person did not dare to meet the RT in person. The area in question is included in the concession that used to be a BMS IUP to mine coal.

Legimin gave his blessing. He thought that if it was just stones for the needs of building a house, go ahead. Moreover, he said at the same time repairing the road.

Two weeks of work Legimin did not check. A local resident told him that it was the activity of digging for coal.

Legimin rushed to the mine site. He asked operators to stop digging for coal because it was different from the initial discussion. The excavator operator stopped.

A month later this syndicate of coal thieves was out carrying three trucks of coal in broad daylight. They crossed the village road and passed the tourist road to the waterfall. Residents suspected that some of the trucks going back and forth were covered with blue tarps.

Residents trace the origin of the truck. It turned out that the miners shifted towards the upstream, some distance from the residential areas. There they returned to unload the coal.

Together with other residents, the RT head reported to the village head about this illegal mining activity. Villagers block trucks carrying coal.

Residents made crossbars using stones on a road in Sumber Sari. The coal carrier had to stop.

Not long after, three mining thugs came to challenge the residents. The residents fought back carrying wood.

The thug chose to retreat. Maybe because the number of residents is getting bigger. Legimin called the police. The police came to secure a truck and a car as evidence.

Luckily, clashes did not occur. Later residents found out that the car was filled with long machetes that had been deliberately prepared by thugs.

“Until now the truck is still in the Polres,” he said.

This village has been proclaimed a tough village, said Legimin, so the Danramil and the police know and side with the residents.

This illegal coal mining syndicate in RT 9 worked for two months before stopping. They had brought three trucks of coal to the port.

In mid-2022, another illegal coal mining syndicate returned to action at spodono RT 5, Sumber Sari village. The miners no longer carry coal across the road in the village but prefer to go directly outside the village to enter the PT MPP mining road (houling) and then exit through the village road. They know that if they cross the village road they will be confronted by residents.

This illegal mining activity is included in the category of large illegal mining, because there are 15 heavy excavators working to dismantle the village agricultural area upstream. They had been working for two months when the residents made their way upstream.

When the mine entered, residents began to feel the impact. The Pelai River, which has been the mainstay of agricultural irrigation, is murky. Mine waste water enters the reservoir.

Tarno said the murky water from the mines affected rice yields. This reservoir is the mainstay of irrigating the agriculture of two other villages namely, Ponoragan and Bukit Biru.

Residents along with RT heads, village officials came to the mining area. They want to stop this illegal activity. “We went there and were ignored. Maybe they feel a lot dengan. Don’t work with him,” he said.

Feeling ignored, community leaders are disappointed. A few days later they brought in more masses to stage an action to force them to stop dismantling the upstream.

Hundreds of residents flocked to the mining area in early August 2022. They took turns giving speeches asking the authorities and the central government to intervene to stop the mining activity. Mine stopped.

In this action, residents were provoked by emotions. They burned the reservoirs and damaged the huts belonging to the miners. “It’s a lot of people, we can’t supervise one by one,” said Legimin.
Because of this, miners threaten to report residents. Only threats because their activity is illegal.

Illegal mining players bring in thugs to persuade village officials to accept the mine. That didn’t work, the mine boss also brought in an elementary school principal, to persuade the RT head not to hinder the presence of the mine.

The person said that if the residents accepted, they would build a tourist road and get basic food packages.

Legimin was not tempted.

Not only did he persuade the head of the RT, Sutarno was the same.

The route where illegal coal is transported to the holding port. This coal is transported by truck across the road out of Sumber Sari. They made the route not cross the village road for fear of being blocked by residents.

This coal crossing goes to Loh Sumber Village, Loa Kulu District. The neighboring village of Sumber Sari also opposes the use of roads by coal mines.

Because they couldn’t cross Loh Sumber Village, Merangan Hamlet, they made a special route to cut the road to get through to the sub-district axis road to the port.

This port is surrounded by tin roofs and walls, located on the banks of the Mahakam River, right in front of the Tenggarong-Samarinda axis road.

Agriculture is promising

The agricultural and livestock sectors promise long-term life. Residents have calculated carefully why they should maintain agriculture rather than accept mining. If defending the land, residents continue to produce agricultural products.

Legimin gave an example of only managing a few vegetable plots such as planting kale, spinach and mustard greens on a half hectare of land where he can harvest more frequently. He said, harvest kale every day.

“Can be IDR 5 million every week.”

The struggle to refuse mining, which was initially only from RT 9, has now continued to expand. Gradually the residents of Sumber Sari Village also refused. Even institutions in the village also support the people’s struggle against mining

“Now it’s evenly distributed, one village refuses to mine.”

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