Within a week, Sigapiton Village was hit twice by landslides. According to the people in the village, the landslides were carried by water from The Caldera Toba Nomadic Escape.
The first landslide occurred when heavy rain fell on Sigapiton Village on Tuesday, 8 March 2022 at around 23.00 WIB. The overflow of water is thought to have comes from the water drain of the international standard tourist spot. Landslides occurred at three points with severe damage that covered the main road of Sigapiton Village and damaged rice fields owned by Op. I. Silalahi, Mrs T. Sinaga and S. Sirait. The three ready-to-plant rice fields that were buried by sand and muddy soil were about one and a half chains or 600 square metres.
In response to the landslide, on Wednesday, 9 March 2022, the Toba Regency Government sent one unit of heavy equipment to Sigapiton Village to remove large rocks and logs that were blocking the road.
Not all the landslide material had been cleared, on Friday, 11 March 2022 at around 08.30 WIB there was another landslide. This landslide blocked the main road access to Sigapiton Village. As a result, activities to and from Sigapiton Village by land were disrupted. At around 11.00 a.m., the community together with TNI officials, in this case the Lumban Julu Koramil, worked together to move large stones that covered the road.
According to S. Sirait, a youth of Sigapiton Village, the landslide was quite disturbing for those who live right under The Caldera Toba Nomadic Escape. He said that the community along with the village head will file a protest to the Caldera office to demand accountability for the landslide that hit the road to Sigapiton Village. The landslide, according to the villagers, occurred because of the presence of the international tourism site in their customary territory.
Environmental disasters have been a concern for the people of Sigapiton Village since the beginning. In addition to the issue of customary land grabbing, environmental issues are one of the important points of their demands to the government. In the draft demands that were submitted to the government through the Presidential Staff Office in 2018, there was a guarantee of protection against environmental disasters and water availability. A demand that is not excessive, because the position of Sigapiton Village is right under The Caldera. Unfortunately, until now their demands for protection guarantees have never been responded to.
The landslide that occurred this week is a reminder for all parties to prioritises the safety and comfort of the surrounding community and tourists. Development that ignores environmental aspects will reap disaster. The carrying capacity and capacity of the environment must be seriously considered. The people of Sigapiton Village, in several discussions, said that they did not reject tourism development, but they also demanded that their rights to land and a safe and comfortable environment not be taken away by the development itself.
In addition to access to customary land ownership which is claimed as a state forest area, another thing that is quite important and concerned by the people of Sigapiton Village is access to clean water and irrigation, as well as a safe and comfortable environment for the sustainability and welfare of their lives. So far, the source of water for around 140 families of Sigapiton villagers comes from the forests above their village, which is the location where international tourism facilities will be built. That is why in their draft demands, they mentioned that the government must guarantee the availability of their water in the future when the international tourism project is running. They are worried that their sources of drinking water and irrigation will be diminished by the construction of star hotels on top of their settlements and rice fields.
They also demanded a guarantee from the government that they will be safe and secure from environmental disasters if the project is built. They requested that tourism facilities and infrastructure be built according to the environmental capacity of the location.
Based on the recent landslides, it is time for the government to re-read and respond seriously to the demands of the people of Sigapiton Village, to avoid greater environmental disasters in the future. It is also time for the people of Sigapiton Village to critically monitor the development process, because they are the ones who know best what is best for their lives now and in the future. ***
KSPPM Investigation Team -2022