Fri, 26 Aug 1994

Bappedal wants Bira golf course project suspended

JAKARTA (JP): The Environmental Impact Management Board (Bappedal) said the controversial development of a nine-hole golf course on Big Bira Island in the Seribu Islands should be suspended because its construction shows total disregard for the environment.

"I regret that the city administration had not taken proper measures to stop the construction of the project (from the beginning)," said P.L. Coutrier, the deputy head of the Bappedal.

The project reportedly lacked a feasibility study or an environmental impact analysis (AMDAL), a mandatory assessment to ensure that any development will not produce unwanted repercussions for the surrounding environment.

"I urged the city administration to stop the developer from undertaking environmentally-dangerous changes to the island. I also asked the city to make the developer return the island to its natural condition," Coutrier said on Wednesday.

Bappedal, said Coutrier, will closely monitor the steps taken by the city administration to resolve the problem, although he admitted that the board had no authority to intervene in the case.

In a related development, Minister of Environment Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, who is also chairman of Bappedal, said that he had given an order to his staff to give their input on how to tackle the problem to the municipal administration.

"Pending the settlement of the matter I urged that the public not to play golf there," Sarwono said.

The development of a nine-hole golf course on the 30-hectare Bira Island sparked protests from the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), who claimed that the construction of the project lacked an environmental impact analysis. They also said that it would cause damage to the surrounding coral reefs which, in turn, could disrupt the marine life the reefs there.

Walhi added that one of the most detrimental things being done to the island, aside from the almost complete annihilation of the island's forestry, was the excavation of sand and gravel from the sea.

Coutrier also pointed out that the cutting of mangroves and other beach vegetation, the use of pesticides and fertilizers and the use of ground water to water the grass were actions which could cause severe damage to the island, the sea water and the marine life living on it.

"All these things may or may not happen. But we cannot predict the actual impact of the project because AMDAL has not been carried out yet...we are only worried about the future of the island," Coutrier said.


City councilors have thrown their weight behind Walhi and WWF in their concern over the possible environmental impact of the gold course development.

The city administration, the councilors said, should have checked whether the developer had a feasibility study done on the project's environmental impact and whether the results were satisfactory before it was allowed to develop the project.

The development of the project, located adjacent to the Pulau Seribu Marine Life Reserve, began last year and is now reaching its final stages.

The golf course, developed by PT Pulau Seribu Paradise, was built on a 20 hectare plot of land, four sixths of the total size of the island.

A Gubernatorial Letter signed by Deputy Governor for Economic and Development Tb. M. Rais on May 26, a copy of which was obtained by Walhi, stated that a feasibility study on the environmental impacts of the project was in process. This statement was later confirmed by the City Environmental Impact Management Board (Bappedal DKI). (pwn/has)