JAKARTA — Massive deforestation for coal mines may have exacerbated floods that recently inundated the eastern part of Indonesian Borneo, the country’s coal heartland. Fourteen villages in Berau district, East Kalimantan province, were flooded from May 13 to 18 after heavy rains battered the district, causing the Kelay and Segah rivers to burst their banks. Floodwaters as high as 2 meters (6.5 feet) inundated 2,507 houses. The local disaster mitigation agency called it “the biggest flood in at least the last 10 years.” The flood also caused the failure of a dike at a coal mine operated by PT Rantaupanjang Utama Bhakti (RUB) on May 16, adding to the volume of floodwater. The Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), an independent watchdog, said the flooding was likely exacerbated by the proliferation of coal mines in the region, both legal and illegal. Jatam identified 94 coal-mining concessions in Berau, 20 of them along the Kelay and Segah rivers. It says these companies have left a trail of destruction in their wake by failing to rehabilitate mining pits in their concessions. As of 2018, there were 123 coal mining pits in Berau, according to data from Jatam. “We suspect that the mining practices in the upstream areas of the Kelay River and the Segah River are the culprit behind the flood that happened this year in the district of Berau,” Jatam said in a press statement. The concession with the largest amount of abandoned pits, 45, is owned by PT Berau Coal. The 118,400-hectare…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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