Govt to issue new regulation on Lapindo mudflow settlement
Saturday, August 8, 2009 06:12 WIB
Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The government is to issue a new regulation on the settlement of the Lapindo mudflow problem in Sidoarjo, East Java, in view of a Supreme Court ruling dismissing human error as the disaster`s cause.
Minister/State Secretary Hatta Radjasa said here Friday the existing government regulation made in 2007 had to be replaced because the Surpeme Court had attributed the mudflow disaster to natural causes.
“The government is now preparing a new Presidential Regulation (Perpres) on the matter in light of the MA ruling,” the minister said.
Radjasa was not yet able to elaborate on the new regulations`s substance or how it would change the way in which the government had so far been handling the matter.
He only stressed the government had no choice but to abide by the MA ruling categorizing the Lapindo mudflow as a natural disaster. The court verdict also meant all investigations into the disaster that presumed it was caused by human error must be discontinued, he added.
Lapindo is the name of a domestic oil and gas exploration company which was drilling wells in the Sidoarjo region at the time the mudflow began. Because some of the company`s well drilling activity had taken place only 150 meters from where the first mud bubbles came to the surface, there was a puplic perception the mudflow was caused by a mistake in the drilling technique applied by Lapindo.
The mudflow eventually covered a vast area of land on which stood a number of villages, farms, factories and public facilties, causing thousands of people to lose their homes, property or jobs.
While a public controversy arose on who was to blame for the disaster, Lapindo agreed to pay the victims certain amounts of compensation but it is unclear whether the company has fully lived up to its commitment.
Meanwhile, the East Java police have stopped their investigation into the possibility the Lapindo mudflow disaster was caused by criminal negligence or intent as defined in the country`s law on environmental management.
East Java police spokesperson Senior Commssioner Puji Astutik said in Surabaya on Friday, police investigators had not been able to find enough facts justifying the continuation of their probe.
The dossier on the case had been submitted to the public prosecutor`s office up to four times but every time it was returned to the police because it was considered to lack sufficient evidence for a court of law.
The public prosecutor`s office main argument for returning the dossier to the police was that it had failed to prove a correlation between Lapindo`s drilling activity and the mudflow. More specifically, the police dossier also did not contain testimony that the drill head used by Lapindo in a well 150 meters from the mud source had actually touched the mud source, Astutik said. (*)