Lapindo Says All Mudflow Victims Will Be Fully Compensated By May

Oil and gas company Minarak Lapindo Jaya said on Wednesday that all victims of the mudflow disaster in East Java would be fully compensated by the end of May.

MLJ’s director, Andi Darussalam Tabusala, acknowledged that the company had failed to reimburse victims Rp 154 billion ($15.9 million) over the past two months.

The parent company of gas firm Lapindo Brantas, MLJ has paid Rp 2.91 trillion of the Rp 3.83 trillion it owes to thousands of families who lost their land when a mud volcano erupted in May 2006. The ensuing mudflow, which continues to gush out at a rate of 10,000 cubic meters a day, has been widely blamed on Lapindo’s drilling activities, but the company claims it was triggered by an earthquake two days earlier and hundreds of kilometers away.

MLJ is owned by the family of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, who at the time of the disaster was the coordinating minister for people’s welfare. Andi told the Public Works Minister, Djoko Kirmanto, that all reparations would be settled by the end of May.

Djoko said that full compensation was urgently needed to assist the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS), which has been overseeing the repayment process and the shoring up of the dam containing the mud lake. Previously, Djoko said MLJ’s failure to complete the payments was exacerbating the situation on the ground, where angry villagers recently blockaded a BPLS work site.

Djoko also urged Sidoardjo officials to prevent the mudflow victims from staging protests that could disrupt the BPLS’s work. He said that the government allocated Rp 2.15 trillion to compensate mudflow victims whose lands were not listed on the map of the affected areas. “We have set aside the budget and it will be paid fully in 2013, including the lands outside the map of the effected area. However, disputed land or land without certificates will not be covered,” he said.

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