‘For the last 42 years, the ADB has made life better for our communities in the Asia Pacific region. My administration strongly commends the ADB”s achievements in this noble endeavor. We admire the devotion and professionalism that the ADB has shown over the years.’

(President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s opening speech at ADB’s 42nd Annual General Meeting in Bali)

The appointment of Boediono as vice president candidate simply emphasized that SBY administration has chosen neo-liberal path campaigned by international financial institutions such as Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB). The decision brought to Indonesia’s dependency on debts, while not all projects funded by those debts are effective and profitable. One of the debt-based projects being monitored is ICWRMIP (Integrated Citarum Water Resources Management Investment Program), a Citarum river basin management project that will soon receive US$500 million loan from ADB.

To follow up its objection over ICWRMIP in November 2008, ARUM (People’s Alliance for Citarum) re-questioned ADB’s commitment over its own policies at its 42nd annual meeting in Bali (2 -5 May 2009).

ARUM has studied the Resettlement Plan draft released by ADB on 14 August 2008 and concluded that at least three of the issues have violated ADB’s own policies. Those issues are: 1. The scope of affected people, 2. The lack of people’s participation, and 3. Inadequate compensations.

However, ADB Board of Directors stuck to its plan and approved the first phase of ICWRMIP project: US$50 million loan for the construction of west canal of the river, and a total US$500 million in MFF scheme without any efforts to revise the criticized-project design.

“At the annual meeting, ARUM has met with ADB Directors from U.S., Japan and Canada and delivered one main question: Why did the board of directors approve to give ICWRMIP loan while the project is very likely to violate ADB’s own policies?” Jefry Rohman of Pusat Sumber Daya Komunitas (PSDK/Community Resources Center) asked.

After a meeting with Executive Director from U.S. Curtis Chin, ARUM Coordinator Dadang Sudardja said “when we, separately, met with several ADB executive directors and asked them the context of ICWRIP institution, they could not provide sufficient answer. They only stated that there has been a roadmap for the project which already can be accessed through ADB website.”

“We have formally sent our written objections over the projects to ADB officials and Indonesian government, but no replies heretofore,” he further explained.

”One of our questions is that the problems of Citarum river are found at its upper and middle areas. So, what is the reason to begin the project at its downstream area? They never explain us technically and substantially,” ARUM Coordinator who has gained supports from more than 500 organizations and individuals for ICWRMIP petition added.

Arimbi Heroepoetri of ELAW Indonesia, an environmental lawyer organization, said “The form of violation conducted by ADB officials is also followed by Indonesian government as it ignored criticisms over the project. President SBY even declared the importance of ADB’s existence in his speech at the opening of ADB’s 42nd annual meeting in Bali.”

The statement is in contradiction to Presidential Decree on government’s work plan which stated that any developmental activities should consider people’s participation in its extended definition. Development managers are demanded to be responsive to people’s will. Such character will grow sense of belonging which eventually encourage people to take bigger part,” Arimbi added.

”The number of affected people remains vague. Resettlement Plan Document released by ADB on 14 August 2008 identified 872 households that are likely to be affected, but ADB’s settlement policy required the usage of ‘affected persons’ criteria instead of households. This means that the document has misled people’s estimation over the number of persons affected by the project, direct or indirectly,” Diana Gultom of debtWATCH Indonesia said.

”No definite programs and new settlements for those affected households. The document only identified private lands that will probably be converted to relocation sites, but no law guarantees their access to those lands,” Diana added.

The displacement plan also did not mention the existence of 200,000 peasants and farm workers in Bekasi who cultivate more than 50,000 hectares of land. “If the construction of siphon is executed, there will be massive reduction of water supplies for irrigation. Meanwhile, minor involvement of peasants from peasant groups will cause horizontal conflict among them due to limited source of water,” Mari Sejahterakan Petani Program Coordinator Nugraha said.

Novita Tantri from Perkumpulan Boemi stated,”If debt-based projects still use such design, we can predict that more projects will become inefficient and will bring more burden will be added to the state’s finance. That burden will go to Indonesian people eventually. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of similar projects at the National Planning Board (Bappenas) waiting for debt disbursement.”

As what SBY believed in his opening speech, will the current ADB project for Citarum bring a better life for Citarum communities from its upstream to downstream area with such design?


Jakarta, 13 May 2009

Contact:

ARUM (Aliansi Rakyat Untuk Citarum)

Jl. Batik Kumeli No. 4, Bandung

Dadang Sudarja (0819 3122 0356)

Arimbi Heroepoetri (0811 84 8514)

ARUM (Aliansi Rakyat untuk Citarum) is a growing network that highly concern to Citarum River Basin, so that it can be used for the people’s welfare and livelihood, as mandated in Indonesia Constitution. ARUM has been doing monitoring toward ICWRMIP (Integrated Citarum Water Resources Management Investment Program/ADB project toward Citarum) since January 2008, and has been contacting Indonesia National Planning Bureau, Ministry of Public Works, BBWS, and also ADB management as our effort to get all the adequate information in ICWRMIP planning and design. ARUM has also done some studies related to the project and ADB policies. ARUM has also directly done monitoring to see the design and implementation of ICWRMIP.