The above situation was experienced by the farmers near Talang Moountain, Simpang Tanjung Nan Ampek in the Lembah Gumanti District, Solok Regency. Many farmers reported loss of crops due to extreme climate change; high intensity rain.
“Bad weather resulted in the increase of the food price. Everything is impacted and it also triggers inflation. Therefore, the impact of this climate crisis could be felt by the regular people and even the government,” she explained.
It was no secret that the environmental degradation in West Sumatra had caused various disasters, including flash floods, landslides and others. The loss experienced by the people was incalculable. Houses were damaged, farmers lost their job since their fields were ruined, rivers were also wrecked due to illegal logging in Agam Regency.
“We visited Pagadih to see the water spring. However, there were too many sediments there, and no fish could be seen. The river was damaged and this will impact the people around it,” she elaborated.
LBH Padang provided legal support to the communities whose rights to food and clean water were impacted. Their first case was in Padang, where two farmer communities in Kuranji reported the difficulty of accessing clean water and that their irrigation system did not work. Those issues were caused by 2 factors; first the water was taken by the national drinking water company (PDAM), second the decrease of groundwater due to the land clearing in the upstream area.
“The irrigation dried up and consequently farmers could not work on their field. In my view, farmers' essential human rights are access to water and clean environment. We sent a written complaint to the national drinking water company, but had not received any reply,” Indira said.
These issues usually ended with fights between farmers and change of agricultural commodities, which was difficult since it required re-learning by farmers. For example, the change from growing rice to papaya. The farmers were left without support from the government to solve their issues.
“We reported to the National Commission on Human Rights and other institutions. They said it was caused by illegal logging. If this is the case, illegal logging should be eradicated,” she emphasized.
The second case handled by LBH Padang was in Tapan, Pesisir Selatan Regency where the forest had been completely barren, and the protected forest around it was planted with palm oil trees. It was not only caused by companies, but also the barons of those businesses who wanted to earn profits from the timber logging.
"We regret the response from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK). The perpetrators have been included in the wanted list, but they have not been arrested yet. Until now, the perpetrator (of the illegal logging) is still living in that village and continue his illegal trading, sourcing his timbers from the National Park of Kerinci Seblat,” she explained.
Indira further told that horrifyingly, many people involved in the loading of these illegal timbers died in the forest. Deathly accidents were common in illegal logging business, and unfortunately this had become a usual thing in that village.
The carpenters who helped with lodging did not get much money. It was the barons who reaped the riches. Once the forests became barren, disasters were the only thing left for the people living around the area. Unfortunately, many people did not understand this. It had always been a dilemma after all, since they took part in the illegal business because of the lack of options for their livelihood.
“Why do you take part in the loading of these illegal timbers? They said that because they have no other options nor work available,” Indira chronicled. The illegal logging case in Tapan was reported to LBH Padang in 2017. Her team had been supporting and reporting it everywhere, including West Sumatra’s Police and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Latest update included the arrest of a perpetrator, but until now, this case had not been processed by the court.
“The illegal logging in the National Park of Kerinci Seblat was supported by the indigenous leader. It is sad that the indigenous people themselves took part in harming the environment. In the end, this illegal logging would cause flooding which will impact their own children and relatives,” explained Indira.
LBH Padang also criticized the sporicidal nature of the emergency responses provided by the government after the occurrence of a disaster. The action that is actually need involves comprehensive and wider restoration. Disaster mitigation should start with prohibiting all forms of environmental exploitation.
Indira stated that LBH Padang firmly opposed the mining activities and large-scale farming. In her view, the government always attempted to applied the simplest solution for a complex situation. “For example, if there is flood, we (government) will construct more water tunnels, fix this part, build more flood control channel, and bla bla bla. That is not solving the root cause of the problem, which is not the infrastructure, but the environment that no longer has the capacity to support us,” she explained.
This happened because of excessive exploitation of the environment. Moreover, upon the issuance of the Law on Job Creation2, the investment access was opened as wide as possible by the government. “The regulation does not support the environment protection. As long as investment is prioritized, disasters will keep happening and there will also be massive violation of human rights,” she added.