Dozens of villagers of Yehembang, Jembrana regency, on Tuesday, protested the illegal encroachment for agriculture, because it is damaging the area of forest conservation.
The protest was conveyed to Perbekel or village chief of Yehembang Made Semadi, and Bendesa or Chairman of Indigenous Village, Gede Ngurah Aryana, who received these people in the local village office.
“We ask ‘pengawenan’ or encroachment for agriculture, which is carried out illegally to immediately suppressed and stopped. The impact is huge especially for the residents’ water supply,” said Mangku Lalut, a resident.
According to him, due to the changing-function of the forest, the water flow in Subak or irrigation canal turning out dry, so farmers cannot do horticulture during the dry season.
He also asserted, ready to help the authorities to suppress the encroachment, as well as giving the names of the perpetrators.
“Making forests as agricultural land illegally only benefit a handful of people. While we, who live in the downstream of the forest, must accept the effects of drought,” he said.
I Gusti Putu Gede Budiasa, other residents said the encroachment has been going on for years, but left impressed until it is widening.
Local custom village cannot take action against the perpetrators, as the forest area is still in Bumbungan traditional village, but he asked for traditional authorities to coordinate with each other.
“If our aspiration is not followed up, we will bring it to a higher official either district or county,” he said.
Answering the people’s will, the Bendesa (village head) of Yehembang, Ngurah Gede Aryana admitted that the forest area is not included in the traditional village under his control, but he promised to coordinate with indigenous villages
“I agree if the encroachment should be stopped, but because it is located in the territory of the other indigenous villages, I would do joint meeting,” he said.
While the village chief or Perbekel of Yehembang, Made Semadi, said he never gave permission for people to grow crops in the forest.
According to him, for the prosecution of the perpetrators, it is under the authority of the forest ranger, so he promised to coordinate with the institution.
“People are actually allowed to grow crops on degraded forests, but there is such a procedure. The procedures are someone must obtain permission from the central government, and willing to be supervised in its implementation,” he said.
Based on the information gathered among citizens, encroachment on Yehembang Village area, District Mendoyo is already alarming, because the land in the forest has begun to be traded including crops on it.