Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Sutiyoso to pursue reclamation project

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Governor Sutiyoso has voiced his determination to go ahead with the plan to reclaim land from the city's northern coast.

Amid criticism from two ministers concerned with the environmental impact of the project, Sutiyoso stressed on Friday that he would proceed with plans to reclaim some 2,700 hectares of land from a 32-kilometer stretch along the north coast.

"Those who are developing Jakarta are not ministers," Sutiyoso said.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Rokhmin Danuri said on Wednesday that land reclamation in the Jakarta Bay was not feasible. He warned that the project would only add more pressure to the present social and ecological problems of the city.

Rokhmin was the second minister to oppose the reclamation plan. State Minister of the Environment Nabiel Makarim has also made similar comments.

Sutiyoso said the ministers' criticism would not change his mind.

All the comments and statements from the ministers, experts and observers will only be treated as input for the implementation of the project, he said.

Earlier this year, Nabiel issued a ministerial decree that opposed the project after studying a recommendation from the central assessment commission on the Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal), which was submitted by the Jakarta Waterfront Implementation Board (PB Pantura).

The central assessment commission showed there were a number of environmental and social problems that could result from the land reclamation project.

The first concern is the reclamation project could cause the sea level to rise by up to 12 centimeters. Second, it could create social tension as thousands of fishermen would lose their jobs. Third, the project could damage the sea's fragile ecosystem. The fourth concern is that it could worsen pollution around the Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands) regency.

Following the rejection of the project by the state minister of the environment, the city environmental management agency (BPLHD) prepared its own report without seeking the approval of the central assessment commission.

Sutiyoso spoke on Friday in front of the ministers under the coordinating minister for the economy to explain in detail the project, which is expected to be implemented within 30 years.

The paper prepared for the meeting with the ministers shows that 30 percent of the reclaimed land would be given to the city administration, while 70 percent would be earmarked for companies participating in the project.

PB Pantura chairman Mochamad Sidharta had disclosed earlier that the reclaimed land would be used for luxury homes, hotels, condominiums, industrial zones, business centers, shopping malls, offices, a port and recreation areas.

Apart from reclaiming 2,700 hectares of land, the city administration will also revitalize some 2,500 hectares of coastal area. He said the revitalization effort could only be implemented if the city benefits from the land reclamation project.