Fri, 11 Apr 2003

KWC project to flood out Pulomas

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Hasan, not his real name, has been living in Pulo Nangka since his early childhood, but never in his life did he witness a flood as severe as that which occurred in early 2002. Water three meters high inundated his house, which is located beside the Pulomas racetrack in East Jakarta.

He said the flooding was terrible, even though there were no construction projects being undertaken in the area back then.

"I'm afraid that if the construction of the shopping complex in the water catchment area near the racetrack is not halted, floods in the future will be much worse. And this means that the residents here will have to suffer more," he said.

Hasan was expressing his misgivings over the construction of a shopping complex, to be known as the Korea World Center (KWC), to the east of the Pulomas racetrack -- considered to be one of the city's few remaining green areas. The project is a collaborative venture between PT KWC of South Korea and PT Pulomas Jaya, a city-owned firm.

The 22,000-square-meter shopping complex will host supermarkets, car showrooms, restaurants, a sports center, music lounge and offices, among other things.

"The planned shopping complex is being built on top of a pond which normally accommodates water that falls during the rainy season. But now they have filled in the pond, and piled three meters of dirt on top of it," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

It is plain to be seen at the site that the level of the soil there is higher than the main road.

Hassan said that the loss of the two-meter-deep pond would result in worse flooding in the luxurious Kayu Putih housing complex, located to the east of the area.

"But the hardest hit will be Pulo Nangka and the Pulomas flats to the north of the construction project," he said, adding that during the last flood, the water rose up to the second floor of his house.

Contacted separately, a resident of the Kayu Putih housing complex, Sugiyanto (50), said the residents of the complex were now bracing themselves for worse flooding as a consequence of the construction of the shopping complex.

"As you can see, dozens of houses have been raised up by one or two meters. The owners are trying their best to avoid the floods," said Sugiyanto, a stall owner who has been living in the neighborhood for the last 25 years.

To make things worse, he said that another construction project was underway on a derelict 0.5-square-hectare site inside the housing complex.

"This project is apparently being undertaken by the same developer who is building the KTC," he said.

According to Sugiyanto, future floods would be more severe as a result of the building being carried out in water catchment areas in the neighborhood.

Earlier, an activist from the Environmental Task Force, Ahmad Syafruddin, told the Post that he doubted if an environmental impact analysis had been conducted on the project.

"Such an analysis requires the active participation of local residents. As someone who is active in a community organization in Pulomas, I can assure you that most of the residents here resent the project," he said.

The chairman of PT KWC pledged to issue a statement on whether or not an environmental analysis had been undertaken, but at the time of going to press the statement had still not been received.