Fri, 12 Sep 2003

House holds first hearing on land disputes

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dozens of people who claim ownerships of 28 disputed plots of land in Jakarta's five mayoralties demanded on Thursday that relevant government agencies help them gain their rights over the plots that are now controlled by the government and businessmen.

The people aired their demands at a hearing held by the House of Representatives (DPR) special committee on land disputes attended by, among others, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, National Land Agency (BPN) head Lufthi Nasution and the land owners or their representatives.

It was the first hearing on land disputes at the House involving representatives of the people, top officials and relevant authorities.

The cases brought to the hearing are among the most complicated land disputes due to the high number of parties involved. The cases date back to the time when President Soeharto was still in office.

The disputes revolve around ownership of the land now occupied by Taman Anggrek shopping mall and condominium in West Jakarta, the land controlled by PT Sahid Jaya International Hotel, Central Jakarta, the land occupied by the DPR housing complex in South Jakarta, and a number of plots occupied by government offices.

Suryadiredja, who represents people who claim ownership of the land occupied by Taman Anggrek, said the case began when the land authority issued ownership certificates for Yayasan Harapan Kita foundation and PT Inti Mulya Pelangi in 1974.

Suryadiredja claimed that the previous owners of the land had complete documents that confirmed their ownership over the 65,300-square-meter plot of land.

"We hope that the House members and relevant officials who attend the meeting will help us gain our rights," Suryadiredja told the hearing. He did not say how many people claimed ownership of the land

Another land owner, Soesinto S. Soekowati, reported the city administration to the meeting for occupying some 81,480 square meters of land at Rawa Bunder subdistrict, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta without paying any compensation to the owners.

He showed the meeting evidence of their ownerships, adding that he and others living on the land were evicted by the city administration in 1973.

"The land used to be a swampy area. We filled the swamp with land and built houses there, but we were evicted in 1973," he added.

Chairman of the House's special committee for land disputes I Nyoman Gunawan said the committee would set up several working groups to study the problems thoroughly.

"This hearing will not make any conclusions because we will carry out a comprehensive study about the issues through the working groups, which we will establish soon," Nyoman said.

Meanwhile, head of the National Land Agency Lufthi Nasution said his office was prepared to revise the land certificates issued by his agency if the people could show evidence of their ownership.

"We are prepared to correct our mistake. I hope we can find the best solution to these problems," Lufthi said.

However, he proposed that the disputing parties find a compromise settlement.

A similar statement was made by Sutiyoso, who also expressed readiness to help solve the land disputes. He also pledged to summon the developers or businessmen involved to seek a compromise.

In regard to land disputes involving the city administration, Sutiyoso said his administration would take a legal approach.

He revealed that his administration had paid Rp 21 billion (US$2.4 million) for a plot of land on Jl. Daan Mogot, West Jakarta, after the city administration lost the case in a legal battle.