the sprawling archipelago of more 17,000 islands where power is heavily decentralised, is also lax.
Campaigners say that companies have ignored their legal obligation to fill abandoned deep pits once their activities are complete. More than 10 people, including seven children, died between 2011 and 2012 from falling into these holes, according to local media reports.
This grim picture of Samarinda is a far cry from what it once was – a lush jungle with orang utans and exotic birds, many native to Borneo. It is a common story across the world’s third-largest island, which was once almost entirely covered in trees but has now lost around half of its forest, according to the WWF.
Like in the Amazon, the rainforest on Borneo acts like a sponge, soaking up climate change-inducing carbon from the atmosphere.
A recent report from NGO the World Development Movement warned the coal rush is spreading to better conserved parts of Borneo, such as Central Kalimantan.
The forest in that province is currently almost untouched but companies such as Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton have plans to begin mining for coal.
BHP said that any development it carries out in Kalimantan “will be subject to detailed environmental and social impact assessments”.
Despite the destruction, Borneo continues to attract nature lovers from around the world to see the oldest known rainforests on the planet and its more than 1,400 animal species and 15,000 types of plants. But environmentalists warn there might not be much left to see if the environmental devastation continues at the current pace. — AFP a barge laden with coal traverses Mahakam river in Samarinda, east Kalimantan. a coal rush has ravaged the capital, which risks being swallowed up by mining if the exploitation of its deposits expands any further. a man collecting waste log from Mahakam river. — aFP PHoToS