Tue, 11 Mar 2003

Sutiyoso insists on reclamation plan

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso stated on Monday that his administration would go ahead with the reclamation plan in the northern coastal area of the city (Pantura), ignoring a new environmental impact analysis on the project.

He emphasized that the reclamation plan was the most obvious way of dealing with the limited space available to cater for fast-growing development in the city.

"Reclamation has been implemented successfully in many cities overseas, such as Singapore and Tokyo. Why can't we do the same thing here?" Sutiyoso said after inaugurating a number of new officials at the city administration.

The reclamation project has drawn strong opposition from various parties who said that it would cause serious environmental damage and spark social problems as it would worsen flooding and affect thousands of people in the area.

The reasons were confirmed by the result of the latest environmental impact analysis (Amdal), which began in May last year.

It shows a number of environmental and social problems. First, the reclamation project would cause an increase in sea level of up to 12 centimeters.

Second, it would spark social conflict as thousands of fishermen in Kamal Muara, Muara Angke, Muara Baru and Kampung Luar Batang could lose their jobs.

Third, it would damage the marine ecosystem as some 330 million cubic meters of sand would be needed to reclaim the area.

Finally, it would worsen pollution around the Thousand Islands regency due to activities during the reclamation process and during the utilization of the reclaimed land.

Following the results of the impact analysis, State Minister of the Environment Nabiel Makarim issued a decree on Feb. 19, to reject the project.

Nabiel also urged President Megawati Soekarnoputri to issue a decree to revoke presidential decree no. 52/1995 issued by former president Soeharto, which become the legal basis for the city administration to implement the project.

Sutiyoso, however, still said that the Amdal had given a green light to the reclamation project. He did not explain which impact analysis was meant, but he may have been referring to the analysis made soon after the project was introduced in 1995.

Previously, executive chairman of the Jakarta Waterfront Management Board M. Sidarta said the Rp 20 trillion project included 2,500 hectares of reclamation from the sea and the revitalization of 2,700 hectares of coastal areas.

Sidarta said that the project, hoped to be completed within 30 years, could improve environmental conditions in the area.

The area produced by the reclamation project would be allocated for luxury housing, hotels, condominiums, industrial zones, business centers, super shopping malls, offices, seaports and recreation venues.

It was not only the Office of the State Minister of the Environment that had opposed the reclamation plan.

Resettlement and Regional Infrastructure Ministry director general for spatial planning Sjarifuddin Akil also rejected the project, saying that it would cause more problems in dealing with flooding.

He stressed that previously, even without the northern Jakarta coast reclamation project and the environmental damage it might cause, the capital city had already been hit by huge seasonal flooding in 2002, causing losses worth Rp 6 trillion (US$666 million).