Mon, 08 Aug 1994

Councilors upset over Bira golf course project

JAKARTA (JP): City councilors have thrown their weight behind an environmental organization in their concerns of possible environmental impacts caused by the development of a golf course in Big Bira island in the Seribu Islands group, North Jakarta.

According to the councilors, the city administration should have checked whether the developer had a feasibility study done on the golf course'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, is reportedly reaching its final stages.

The Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) said last week the project, the first golf course in the Seribu Islands group, was lacking an environmental feasibility study report and that it was developed without any regard to the environment.

City councilor Aliwongso Halomoan Sinaga of the City Council's Commission D on development, told The Jakarta Post that he supports any development activities aimed at promoting tourism in the Seribu Islands, but underlined the necessity of the companies developing the islands to abide by the rules.

Sinaga said the completion of an environmental feasibility study was compulsory prior to the development of the golf course.

"The key to whether the development can be continued or not actually depends on the result of the environmental impact study. If the result proves that the project is not environmentally feasible, won't that be absurd?" Sinaga said. The developer should suspend development until the findings of a feasibility study on environmental impacts are available, according to Sinaga.

Councilor Saud Rachman of the United Development Party (PPP) faction at the council concurred about the ignorance of the project concerning marine life safety.

Rachman added that the size of the golf course might also be too small and therefore not of much use.

According to Soraya, Walhi's program manager for ecosystem management, the golf course was built on a 20 hectare plot of land, four sixths of the total size of the island which is 29 hectares.

But according to PT Pulau Seribu Paradise's director Benny Sumampouw's secretary, Ella, the golf course occupies only an area of seven hectares, not 20 hectares as reported by Walhi.

A Gubernatorial Letter signed by Deputy Governor 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. Dodo Sambodo, an officer of the Environmental Impact Management Board (Bapedal), was quick to confirm Walhi's statement.


"This is proof that they (the developer) had been building the project despite not yet having obtained results of the study yet," Soraya said.

"Hence, we demand that the development of the project be suspended and their license to build the course and other related documents reviewed," she said.

Should the result of the study affirm the presence of a golf course could endanger the marine life reserve, Soraya said that an independent monitoring team must be established so that any destruction to the marine reserve could be immediately detected.

City councilor Sugiat from the City Council's commission A on administrative affairs, who inspected the course four months ago, said he was not aware that the study on environmental impact was not yet finished and invited Walhi to present to him an accurate and scientific account on the impact of the project to the marine life reserve.

In reply to the councilor's appeal, Soraya, stressing the importance of preventive measures, said that environmental destruction takes a long time to take happen because it is a gradual process. (arf)