The 630-megawatt Pacitan coal-fired power plant began construction in 2007 and started working in 2013. There are many complaints about coal dust and air contamination . Local fishermen say their catch has fallen dramatically since the project was launched, forcing them to fish much further offshore. People whose livelihoods have suffered say they have not received sufficient compensation, and that the plant offers little in terms of alternative employment for locals.
Misnadi, head of the Sumberejo Fishermen’s Group, said: “We fishermen demanded 6 million rupiah ($451) per year in compensation,” explaining that they planned to divide the compensation among three groups of forty fishermen each . The power plant has changed the fishing area scope for the fishermen, compromising their livelihood. As fishermen grew frustrated, their positioning towards the power plant became increasingly tense.
In hopes of avoiding conflict, the subdistrict leadership forum contacted Misnadi. “I told them we are trying to earn a living, so even if we’re being shot at, we’ll do it anyway,” he said. “In the end we came up with a shift system. When the project people are working, we don’t go fishing. When they stop working, we go fishing.” Despite that agreement, fishermen are reluctant to fish in the area. “The power plant has limited our activities,” Misnadi said. “We can’t cast our nets, there are ships going everywhere, it’s not pleasant. … In the end, the fishermen avoid the area.”
For Misnadi, the Kondang Bay is his main source of livelihood. To earn as much as he did before the plant was built, Misnadi now has to sail further into the bay, often traveling up to 25 miles offshore in search of fish and shrimp. But finding a new place to fish is not a simple matter of steering his boat to more fruitful waters. Misnadi also has to navigate the unwritten rules of the local fishing communities, which dictate that fishermen from one area are not at liberty to fish in waters traditionally harvested by other communities [ 2].
Moreover, there is damage to turtles. Fuel for the Pacitan coal-fired power plant is brought by sea-going barges, which pass through turtle breeding areas. Conservation areas near the power plant provide nesting sites for green, hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles. Local conservationists say the presence of coal barges — and several spills — reduces the number of hatchlings. Villagers say the river near the power plant is now empty of the fish and shrimp that once formed a regular part of the local diet.