Slamet Susanto and Arya Dipa, Yogyakarta/Bandung -- Thousands of survivorsof the Mount Merapi eruptions staged a rally in Yogyakarta on Monday,demanding that the government fulfill its promise to compensate them forlivestock killed during the eruptions.
The protestors arrived in trucks to the governor's office in Kepatihan andto the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) office on Jl. Kenari."We want the government to act on its promise," Kemirah of Wukirsarivillage in Cangkringan, Sleman, said.
The survivors also demanded that temporary homes for them be built as soonas possible.
The BNPB previously said it would disburse funds to the affected localadministrations to purchase livestock for survivors. The agency reportedthat it would purchase nearly 4,000 cows.
The Agriculture Ministry, in a similar vein, said it would give cows tosurvivors who lost livestock through a social aid program in its 2011budget. Residents have reported the death of almost 3,000 heads of cattlein Yogyakarta and Central Java.
The protestors, however, said they felt the authorities were acting tooslowly, especially as survivors were in desperate need of cash to startrebuilding their lives.
In 2006, Yogyakarta residents were also let down by a similar pledge bythe government, who promised to compensate them for houses destroyed bythe powerful earthquake that hit the city and surrounding areas. They wereforced to wait for a long time before the government finally met itspromise to disburse the funds in stages.
Kimin of Petung village in Kepuharjo, Cangkringan, said Sunday he wouldstart cultivating his field once he received compensation for his deadlivestock, adding that he expected some of the compensation to be in the
form of cash. "I hope the government starts handing out the compensationsoon so we can start over. We have nothing left," he said.
Since Merapi was taken off its high-alert status, survivors have returnedto their homes and started to clean up and salvage valuables from therubble. Some were also seen planting crops in fields and yards.
Sleman Deputy Regent Yuni Satia Rahayu called on residents to exercisepatience and promised to help them get the compensation. "We are stillnegotiating with the central government," she said.
Meanwhile, experts are calling for a change in the way Mt. Merapi ismonitored, following this year's major eruptions.
Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) head Suronosaid in Bandung on Monday that the center could no longer rely on earliermonitoring methods as the volcano's eruption characteristics had changed.Previously, he said, Merapi's eruptions always began with the formation ofa lava dome followed by slow release of pyroclastic flows. "That was notthe case this year."
The 2010 eruptions, the biggest ever in Merapi's recorded history, Suronosaid, came from magma located between 8 and 15 kilometers below thecrater, accounting for the high pressure and explosive eruptions.
Before the eruptions, he said, the mountain had released 144 tons ofsulphus dioxide. After the eruptions, it was up to 250,000 kilotons. "Thisis a drastic increase."