|The site for the two coal-fired power plants at Cilegon in Banten Province, Indonesia. Courtesy of Solutions for Our Climate|
|Wahyudin, one of the plaintiffs / Courtesy of Solutions for Our Climate|
By Jung Min-ho
|Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Chairman Park Gee-won|
After signing a contract with PT Indo Raya Tenaga (Indonesia Power), an electricity producer, in March, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, a major Korean builder, is set to start construction of two 1,000 megawatt (MW) plants ― Jawa 9 and 10 ― at Cilegon, a coastal industrial city near Jakarta, later this year.
Financed by the Korea Development Bank, Korea Export-Import Bank and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, the 1.6-trillion-won ($1.3 billion) project is expected to be completed in 2024. Korea Midland Power, a subsidiary of state-run power provider Korea Electric Power, said it is considering operating the facilities.
On Thursday, three Indonesian citizens, including a Cilegon resident, filed a petition with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking an injunction against the state-run financial institutions that sponsor and support the project, which the plaintiffs say will harm their health and the environment in the area.
With 22 coal-fired power plants operating in Jakarta and the surrounding area, residents worry that additional plants will worsen pollution.
"I hear that there are so more fewer fish around the (existing) power plant and that there is a long line at the hospital because people have skin and respiratory diseases," Wahyudin, 28, one of the plaintiffs, was quoted as saying. "We really need to stop these new power plants."
In a letter to President Moon Jae-in, which was attached to the petition document, a Cilegon resident, who refused to be named because of fear, said air pollution in his town is already bad.
"It will only get worse with the Jawa 9, 10 project," he wrote. "I have heard that air pollution is one of the most important issues in Korea and that the government is working very hard to reduce air pollution and close coal power plants there. I wonder how a nation like Korea can neglect the fact that its investment activities in Indonesia are killing Indonesian people."
Korean activists, who are concerned with the issue, also joined the plaintiffs for the petition.
"I want my tax money to be spent right," Hwang Sun-ja, 57, said. "Our tax money should not be used for threatening the lives of people in other countries. The coal industry is going down anyway. It would be a terrible waste to invest in something that will definitely result in loss."
According to Solutions for Our Climate, an environmental civic group in Seoul, Korea is one of the world's biggest investors in coal-fired power, "exporting" its plant construction and management know-how to many countries in Southeast Asia.
The organization said the total funding provided to coal projects overseas by the Korea Export-Import Bank and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation over the past 10 years is about 11.3 trillion won.