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.  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. 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.. 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.