The Struggle of Betting the Lives of the Guards of the Mount Slamet Slope Water Tunnel


Far on the south side of the slopes of Mount Slamet, Kusnanto (60) and Agus Salim (48) are busy clearing the waterway tunnel of rocks, tree trunks and leaves that enter it. How not, the tunnel is the source of life for residents in six villages at the foot of Mount Slamet.

Both of them are responsible for maintaining the Tirtapala aqueduct or better known as the Sanbasri aqueduct in Grumbul Windusari, Kalisalak Village, Kedungbanteng District, Banyumas. The flow of water must be maintained from the upstream of the 550-meter tunnel to the village through a 2-kilometer irrigation channel.

With a machete and a lamp, the two of them started walking upstream of the tunnel that drew water from its source in the Logawa River on the slopes of Mount Slamet. This job was not without challenges, both of them had to walk through a dark tunnel 2 meters high and only 80 centimeters wide. Not to mention the safety risks they face with the possibility of landslides or flash floods.

“As far as I know the difficulty is if there is an avalanche, it’s not the whole tunnel because there are windows. So if there’s an avalanche, it goes in, so the heavy work there, has to be dredged, must be thrown away until the water travels smoothly,” said Kusnanto to reporters, Sunday (30/1/2022).

Kusnanto and Agus Salim are responsible for maintaining the Tirtapala water tunnel which is the source of life for residents on the slopes of Mount Slamet. What’s the story like? Photo: Arbi Anugrah/detikcom

Kusnanto and Agus Salim have been trusted by Kalisalak Village for the past six years to maintain the tunnel which has a high historical value in the area. How not, the construction of the water channel tunnel was built in a simple way in 1949-1956 by eight villagers.

Although the source of water from the Logawa River can flow through the six villages below, it is even commercialized by Pamsimas, but not many people know where the water comes from so that it can flow through their villages. With a fee from Kalisanak Village of IDR 375,000 per person, Kusnanto and Agus Salim are still sincere in maintaining the historical heritage channel.

“That’s my risk (becoming a tunnel water guard). In my mind, two people are being trusted by the village to continue the struggles of the ancients who have penetrated the rock-shaped hill laid out until now, I include continuing the struggle. Even though it’s a little paid, but I’m sincere “I take care of the Sanbasri irrigation canal as long as it is for the needs of many people, I consider it a worship,” he said.

Apart from being the guardians of the Tirtapala tunnel water flow, the two of them also work as tappers for damar tree sap to increase their daily income. In at least half a month, Kusnanto and Agus Salim can collect about 1 quintal of resin for a fee of around Rp. 300 thousand.

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