Benoa reclamation faces stronger opposition

Dozens of organizations showed their support for Bali Forum Against Reclamation (ForBALI), which is urging the central government to remove the Benoa Bay reclamation project from the nation’s development master plan. They demanded the presidential working division for monitoring and control of development (UKP4) exclude the project from the list of investments in the Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI), saying the project contradicted spatial planning regulations.

On Wednesday, they submitted their statement to UKP4’s office, which was received by UKP4 deputy, Nirarta Samadhi. “This project runs counter to spatial planning regulations,” ForBALI coordinator I Wayan Suardana stated. MP3EI is a long-term development program to enhance the country’s economic development, as stipulated in a 2011 presidential regulation. The program is divided into six corridors, with Bali and Nusa Tenggara being listed in Corridor 5, focusing on enhancing investment in tourism, fishery and husbandry.

One of the investments is the Benoa Bay reclamation project by PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional. In the letter submitted to UKP4, the organizations highlighted some regulations that contradict the MP3EI targets in Benoa Bay. Among these regulations is the 2011 Presidential regulation on spatial planning for Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Tabanan (Sarbagita), which stipulates that Benoa Bay is a conservation zone. This regulation is strengthened by the 2012 presidential regulation on coastal areas and small islands, stating that reclamation is not allowed in conservation and sea current zones.

However, despite these contradictions, it was suspected that the central government had issued a recommendation to include the Benoa Bay reclamation in the MP3EI. The recommendation was further strengthened by the early issuance of spatial planning for Badung regency and a permit by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry to accommodate the investment of PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional in Benoa Bay.    The minister issued a regulation last year on reclamation in coastal areas and small islands, allowing reclamation in conservation areas outside the core zone.

“This [Benoa Bay reclamation project] has been ‘organized’, in spite of the contradictions with prevailing regulations,” Suardana said. Some researchers in Bali have declared that land reclamation in the bay would damage the ecology. Conservation International Indonesia has done analysis that indicates the reclamation would disrupt the bay’s function as a reservoir. Udayana University has also stated that the project was not feasible.

ForBALI and several other organizations have issued their joint statement to oppose reclamation projects in coastal areas nationwide. In addition to Benoa Bay, reclamation is also planned at Palu Bay and Kendari Bay in Sulawesi, as well as in Jakarta Bay. A revised 2007 Law on Coastal Areas and Small Islands does not stipulate that Indonesian coastal areas are protected from reclamation projects.

“As a maritime country with almost 81,000 kilometers of coastline, the coastal area should be protected,” M. Islah from Walhi said, expressing his concern that the ecological function of coastal areas was threatened by development. In an environmental review released by Walhi on Jan. 15, the group recorded that the frequency and intensity of ecological disasters in Indonesia last year tripled, from 475 incidents of flooding and landslide with 125 victims in 2012 to 1,392 incidents that claimed 565 lives last year. The disasters occurred in 419 regencies nationwide.

The current flooding occurring in Jakarta and Manado this month is believed to have been caused by reckless development. The organizations also demanded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono review the development model that exploited nature and neglected the environmental carrying capacity. In addition to Walhi, other organizations that support this cause include the People’s Coalition for Justice in Fishery (KIARA), the Indonesian Peasants Union (SPI), Youth Food Movement (YFM), PBHI Jakarta, Indonesian Human Rights for Social Justice (IHCS), and the Union of Indonesian Traditional Fishermen (KNTI).

source : bali daily

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