Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Nabiel loses case against BP Panture

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Environmental protection efforts suffered a setback on Wednesday after the Jakarta State Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Jakarta Waterfront Development Board (BP Pantura) in its dispute against the State Minister of the Environment over a controversial land reclamation project for Jakarta's northern coast.

The panel of judges ruled that Decree No. 14/2003, issued by the State Minister of the Environment to reject the plan to reclaim 2,700 hectares of the area, was unlawful and ordered the minister's office to revoke it immediately.

"The decree is unlawful because the issuance was beyond a state minister's authority. The state minister of the environment was entitled only to assist the president in drawing up environmental policies and coordinating environmental protection initiatives," presiding judge Eddi Nurjono said in his verdict.

The judges also decided that the decree contradicted Presidential Decree No. 5/1985, which gave the go-ahead for the reclamation project.

The ministerial decree -- which states that relevant companies that have business relations with BP Pantura must stop their cooperation unless an environmental impact analysis (Amdal) is made -- was also rendered void until a final verdict on the case was reached.

Lawyers of the accused will appeal the verdict.

State Minister of the Environment Nabiel Makarim said the judicial panel had set a bad precedent for environmental protection efforts in the country.

"For the first time, the Amdal for a project, which has the potential to cause widespread environmental damage, has been annulled by a court decision," he said in a media release.

The minister said the House of Representatives, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the Supreme Court should summon the panel of judges for making the controversial ruling.

Executive Director of the Indonesia Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Longgena Ginting denounced the ruling, saying that the administrative court had no authority to hear the case.

He said the trial had been marred by irregularities from its inception.

"The six companies had no right to file the suit in the first place as the ministerial decree concerned only BP Pantura," he told The Jakarta Post after the trial.

As an agency established by the Jakarta administration, BP Pantura is subject to rulings from the administrative court.

Six companies under BP Pantura's umbrella -- PT Bakti Bangun Era Mulia, PT Taman Harapan Indah, PT Manggala Krida Yudha, PT Pelabuhan Indonesia II, PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol and PT Jakarta Propertindo -- have invested a huge sum of money in the project. They filed the lawsuit against the decree, which they considered would cause them to suffer a financial loss.

The reclamation project is for the construction of luxury houses, hotels, condominiums, an industrial zone, a port, business centers, massive shopping malls, offices and recreation places. The project is expected to be completed within 30 years.

Experts have long called on the government to call off the reclamation project, saying it would cause numerous environmental and social problems.