The village in a reservoir

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The floating village and their fish cages form a permanent sight at the open water embankment of Jatiluhur Dam, severing its function as a water supply for consumption to as far as Jakarta.

Indonesia’s first and biggest dam gets into more critical condition each year as the waste from fish farm continues to accumulate and the illegal population sprawled out of control to its peak at some thirty thousands, a number that had caught the governor’s attention, vowing to reduce it to the accepted quota at 4,000.

The quota assumption was based on the number of households who are deprived of their farming activities following the dam completion in 1967.

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This apparently has taught the local authorities to rule out fish cage as a compensation for farmland during the inundation of the newly built Jatigede Dam in Sumedang, West Java, the country’s second biggest at the size of nearly 5,000 hectares, this August.

The generation half a century apart has come to learn the aggravating impact of fish cage to dam pollution, water incapacity and the hazard in operating the power turbines.

There are 28 villages reported to be eradicated to make way for Jatigede Dam, a huge social impact affecting some tens of thousands of people.

The important lesson is that handling such crucial infrastructure and have it function as originally planned for requires great responsibility.

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Despite its critical condition, Jatiluhur Dam has not given up on its initial purpose: to become a vital source of water consumption for the immensely populated capital city, 70 kilometers away, plus the surrounding industrial areas of Bekasi and Karawang.

Thus the plan to build two tap water facilities or the so-called Sistem Penyediaan Air Minum (SPAM) Jatiluhur goes on. It was part of the national commitment to Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), in which it demands tap water access to over 68 per cent population by this year, and ultimately for all in 2019.

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Jatiluhur Dam took a total area of 8,300 hectares in Purwakarta, having played a vital role in watering over 242,000 hectares of agricultural field, producing 187 megawatt electricity for the region from 6 turbines, preventing flood on wet season and drought on dry season.

The initiative to clamp down on the excess of fishing activities-many had trespassed into the turbines zone-and unruly settlement on the embankment, has taken place in the past several months. Even the neighborhood self-regulated cleaning activities had made it into the news in March this year.

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan has reiterated early this year that there will be no fish cage in Jatigede’s reservoir.

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105 meters tall, 1.2 kilometers long, its reservoir contained 2.4 billion cubic meters of water, Jatiluhur Dam’s construction began in 1957 during the ruling era of Indonesia’s first president Soekarno. It took ten years to complete and remains the biggest dam in the country.

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