Mon, 14 Apr 2003

Emil Salim joins in calls to abort reclamation

Bambang Nurbianto and Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Criticism against the city administration's plan to reclaim the coastal areas in some northern parts of Jakarta has increased with Emil Salim, an environmental expert and former minister of the environment, putting his weight behind the opponents of the massive project.

Emil Salim emphasized that the 2,700-hectare project would worsen the flood problems in Jakarta.

"Don't widen the coastal areas in Jakarta as it will surely worsen flood problem in Jakarta," Emil told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

He said that the reclamation project would further worsen the impact of global warming, which according to environmental experts, could eventually raise global sea levels by up to 60 centimeters by 2070, due to the melting of ice at the north and south poles, causing some coastal lands and islands to become completely submerged.

According to Emil, the impact of global warming on tropical areas like Indonesia would be doubled compared to other regions.

He explained that global warming could be hastened by such reclamation projects, which could cause an average of a 12- centimeter rise in Jakarta's rivers.

Emil also warned the project investors that they would suffer financial losses over the next 20 to 30 years as the reclaimed areas would be affected by serious flooding during the rainy season.

"We are now working to reduce the possibility of global warming, but we should consider the worst-case scenario (if the effort fails). Therefore, don't go ahead with the reclamation project," Emil noted.

Previously, Minister of Environment Nabiel Makarim, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Rokhmin Danuri, Minister of Resettlement of Regional Infrastructure Soenarno and environmental activists have stated that environmentally the project was not feasible.

Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim issued a decree to oppose the reclamation plan after considering a recommendation issued by the Central Commission of Environmental Assessment, which was tasked to study the environmental impact analysis on the project.

One of the items of the recommendation says that reclamation will worsen flooding in the city as it would raise water levels in rivers flowing through the northern coastal areas up to 12 centimeters.

Agus Pratama Sari, an executive director at the environmental research organization Pelangi, also warned that the global warming impact would be worsened by the reclamation project.

He also said that the joint global efforts to curb the global warming impact were not yet successful.

Through the Kyoto Protocol the international community will attempt to reduce CO2 emissions -- one of the main causes of global warming -- by 5 percent by 2012, but there were no indications that these efforts would be successful due to a lack of commitment. He said even if the Kyoto Protocol was successful it would not be enough to halt global warming.