Wed, 04 Jun 2003

Nabiel denies approving N. Jakarta reclamation

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State Minister for the Environment Nabiel Makarim denied on Tuesday Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso's statement that the minister had changed his mind and decided to approve the reclamation of Jakarta's north coast.

"Well ... it's a misperception on the part of Pak Sutiyoso... I have never agreed with the reclamation project," Nabiel told journalists in his office.

He was responding to Sutiyoso's claim on Monday that Nabiel had endorsed the much-criticized plan during their meeting on the same day.

The governor said Nabiel had demanded at the Monday meeting that the project be integrated with the city administration's plan to address the unresolved flood problem.

However, the minister said on Tuesday that if Sutiyoso wanted to press ahead with the reclamation of 2,700 hectares of coastal land, he should first redesign the plan and submit a new environmental impact analysis (Amdal).

"For example, the size and location of the reclamation project must be changed and then they (the city administration) should carry out a new Amdal study," Nabiel said.

He explained that an integrated policy involving the Bogor and Jakarta administrations to resolve the annual flooding in the capital should be developed so as to allow the new reclamation project to go ahead.

"Without comprehensive measures to control the floods, any coastal reclamation project in North Jakarta will only further worsen the problem," he said.

Even if measures to tackle the floods in Jakarta were already drawn up, Nabiel still doubted that the use of 330 million cubic meters of sand for the reclamation project, which will cover some 32 kilometers of the north coast, would not damage the environment in the areas where the sand would be excavated.

In this case, it would be useless if changes to the reclamation project were made only on the basis of the Amdal, Nabiel added.

"If the design of a new reclamation project is similar to the current plan, any changes in the Amdal will be meaningless. We will still reject it for the same reasons," the minister asserted.

Nabiel issued Ministerial Decree No. 14/2003 on Feb. 19 rejecting the 2,700-hectare reclamation project, and he said on Tuesday that the decision was final.

According to the decree, the project would raise the sea level by about 12 centimeters, and would damage the marine ecosystem as millions of cubic meters of sand would be needed for the project.

The plan would also increase pollution in the Kepulauan Seribu regency due to activities during the reclamation process and the utilization of the reclaimed land.

In addition, the project would spark social conflict as thousands of fishermen living in Kamal Muara, Muara Angke, Muara Baru and Kampung Luar Batang would lose their livelihoods.

Nabiel has also urged President Megawati Soekarnoputri to issue a decree revoking Presidential Decree No. 52/1995 issued by former president Soeharto, which provided a legal basis for the city administration to press ahead with the project.

Nabiel went on to say that instead of proceeding with the reclamation, his ministry has proposed an alternative to the city administration to ease rising population pressures in the city.

"The city administration can carry out revitalization of the coast, but not reclamation," he said.

He added that Jakarta could cooperate with the Banten administration to build new business centers and apartments in the neighboring province to anticipate the increasing population of the capital.