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Batang coal fired power plant, Central Java, Indonesia


 The 2,000-megawatt Batang coal-fired power plant has been billed as the largest project of its kind in Southeast Asia, and is part of a larger plan to add 35,000 megawatts of power to Indonesia's grid. Batang villagers who oppose the plant allege they have faced human rights abuses.  As preliminary construction begins in 2017, local fishers claim their catch has been reduced. However, as a model project for public-private partnerships in Indonesia, the Batang plant enjoys robust government support. The 2,000-megawatt (MW) plant is now expected to be “fully operational” in 2020. [1] The announcement followed  delays due to four years of community protest and opposition to the project’s development. For instance, in May 2016 about 3,500 people staged a protest in the capital . Organized by environmental groups, the protest began in front of the Japanese Embassy, where the participants demanded that Japan drop the 2,000-megawatt project, before marching to the presidential palace. The coal-fired power plant, meant to supply electricity to 13 million people in Central Java, has been promoted by PT Bhimasena Power Indonesia, a consortium of Japan's Electric Power Development Co.

(J-Power), Itochu Corp. and Indonesian coal mining company Adaro Energy. "The project poses risks to the public's health," said 48-year-old fisherman Iman, who joined the protest. Conservation organization Greenpeace Indonesia said the power plant will pump 10.8 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere a year, as well as air pollutants including neurotoxins such as mercury that could bring deadly consequences to Indonesia's environmental and human health. Longgena Ginting, head of Greenpeace Indonesia, said that the Paris agreement on climate change signed last month by around 170 countries must be followed by political actions.

Construction of the power plant, one of the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, was initially slated to start in 2012, with commercial operations expected to commence by 2016.

However, land acquisition for the project has been delayed amid on-and-off negotiations with local residents dominated by concerns over the plant's environmental impact.

On June 30 last year, the Central Java provincial government issued a decree allowing the state electricity company PLN to seize land from the residents, as villagers owning a total of 12.51 hectares of land were refusing to sell.

The project itself requires 226 hectares of land straddling three subdistricts in Batang Regency in Central Java.

Two months later, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo started the construction of the project amid objections from the villagers.

 Batang is best known for its abundant fishing, thanks to the coral reefs and lush mangroves that support an array of marine life including crabs, prawns and tortoise. Every day, a patient parade of lantern-lit boats can be seen silently fishing, speckled across the ocean surface from horizon to horizon. Local tourism, a monthly market festival, social cohesion and the character of the province is dependent on this fishing industry. Those who are not fishers are generally farmers, including approximately 50 landowners who refused to hand over their fields to developers without a fight.[1] As the developers, central government and dozens of local landowners - spread across five villages - could not reach an agreement over the selling price of the land, the case eventually went to court (the government making use of the 2012 Land Acquisition Act). In February 2016 Indonesia's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the project, paving the way for the Indonesian government to acquire the remaining land and developers to go-ahead with construction.[2].  Environmental groups also fiercely oppose the coal-fired Batang plant as coal is one of the most polluting energy sources due to its high proportion of carbon, while the power plant - set to become the largest coal-fired plant in Indonesia - runs counter to the nation's earlier commitment to combat carbon emissions. Although Japan uses technology that reduces carbon emissions, critics claim that this reduction is insignificant.

Moreover, environmental groups claim the Batang project overlaps with the Ujungnegoro-Roban marine conservation area, jeopardizing the richness of local fishing waters as well as fishermen's livelihoods.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Batang coal fired power plant, Central Java, Indonesia
State or province:Central Java
Location of conflict:Batang Regency
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details

2,000-megawatt (MW) plant, which is now expected to be “fully operational” in 2020. The announcement followed multiple delays due to four years of community protest and opposition to the project’s development. The project developer is Bhimasena Power Indonesia (BPI). BPI is a private joint venture between two Japanese firms — utility and power plant operator J-Power and the Itochu Corporation — and Adaro Power, a subsidiary of Adaro Energy, one of Indonesia’s largest coal companies. The $4 billion project is being funded by the government-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) along with several other Asian banks.[1].

Up against these powerful entities, the farmers and fisherman of Batang asked for assistance from environmental NGOs Greenpeace Indonesia and Friends of the Earth Japan. Local security, the police and the army intimidate citizens who object to the development, Wicaksono (Greenpeace coordinator) told Mongabay. [1]. “People opposing are also arrested and jailed. One community leader was jailed for eight months. It makes people very scared. Even when they try to inform the police, if it is from someone opposing, the police do not care,” said Wicaksono. Originally the project was estimated to cost US$3.2 billion. In October 2013, Boy Garibaldi Thohir, president director of Adaro Energy, said that the cost of the project had risen significantly. Boy declined to state an exact figure but said that the total was not more than $5 billion.

Project area:226
Level of Investment:4,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:PT Bhimasena Power Indonesia (BPI) from Indonesia
J-Power from Japan
Itochu Corporation from Japan
Adaro Power from Indonesia
International and Finance InstitutionsJapan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC) from Japan
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation from China
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace Indonesia
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Semarang, a legal aid organization
Friends of the Earth Japan

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other Environmental impactsThe Batang project overlaps with the Ujungnegoro-Roban marine conservation area, jeopardizing the richness of local fishing waters as well as fishermen's livelihoods.
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsAlleged mercury contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of fisheries


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the protests, the project goes ahead. "Local residents endured harassment and arrests as the project’s proponents attempted to quash dissent. However, by refusing to sell their land, they have delayed the project by three years and sent a clear signal to the world that local communities must have a voice in decisions about their land, water, economy, and heritage" [4].

Sources & Materials

[2] Indonesia's Controversial Batang Power Plant: Human Rights & Environment, 7 June 2016

Indonesia’s largest coal plant will be built despite protests, minister says. 26 May 2013. Mongabay

[1] As construction begins on Java’s Batang coal plant, a divided community faces environmental problems. 24 January 2017. Mongabay.

[3] Thousands rally in Jakarta against Java power plant project. Wednesday, 11 May 2016 . May 11, Kyodo

Central Java Power Project (Jawa Tengah), also known as PLTU Batang or Batang power station, is a proposed 1,900-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station by PT Bhimasena Power Indonesia (BPI) in Pemalang, Batang, in Central Java, Indonesia.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Greenpeace Indonesia. Aksi Protest Nelayan Terhadap Pembangunan PLTU Batang. 5 Juni 2016

THE FENCE. Greenpeace Indonesia

Petition against Japan's financing of the Batang CFPP

Greenpeace video. Perjuangan Masyarakat Batang melawan Perusakan Lingkungan oleh PLTU. 2013.

[4]Sierra Club. May 6, 2015. Are Japan And The World Bank Supporting A Coal Plant With Human Rights Violations In Indonesia?

By Nicole Ghio

Meta information

Contributor:SM, JL and JMA (ICTA-UAB)
Last update18/08/2019



Source: Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists, together with farmers and fishermen from Batang and the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) unfurl a banner reading “Food Not Coal!” in the middle of Ponowareng village rice fields to show their opposition to the proposed coal-fired power plant in Batang, Central Java

At Japan's embassy in Jakarta


Source: Yudhi Mahatma/Greenpeace

Fishers and farmers wave signs to show their opposition to the Batang coal-fired power plant


Xinhua/Veri Sanovri

March 30, 2017. Environmentalist organizations and fishing community protested here on Thursday against the coal-fired power plant project constructed in Batang, Central Java province, which would produce 10.8 million tons of carbon emission each year, worsen the impacts of climate change and to damage the environment around the project areas and harm the health of people