Indonesia: Hundreds rally against Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) for Benoa Bay reclamation

thejakartapost.com 29 Jan 16;

Hundreds of people staged a rally on Friday against the issuance of an Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) on the Benoa Bay reclamation project.

The protesters, organized by several community groups, including ForBali, Bali Environment Forum, Jimbaran United and Pecatu Rejects Reclamation, conducted the rally in front of the Bali Governor's office in Denpasar, where a discussion on the project's Amdal was being held.

"We will continue to reject the reclamation efforts in the Benoa Bay," said ForBali coordinator I Wayan “Gendo” Suardana as quoted by kompas.com.

The protesters said the Benoa Bay area was home to at least 70 Hindu sacred places that had to be maintained and urged Bali Governor Mangku Pastika to join them in rejecting the project.

Police secured the location and closed down the road in front of the governor's office complex.

Hindus consider Benoa Bay a sacred area because of the presence of 60 natural sites, including 19 loloan (estuaries) and 17 muntig (small islands that emerge during low tide).

Locals are worried that the reclamation of at least 700 hectares of the bay for an integrated tourism development project proposed by a private developer will damage their sacred sites.

Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014 that approved the reclamation was issued by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono several months before he left office.

The regulation has been criticized for allegedly skirting previous spatial planning bylaws by re-designating Benoa Bay as a business site from its previous status as an environmental buffer zone and green-belt area.

Previously, researcher Sugi Lanus said that despite the presidential regulation there were many regulations that had be considered, including the Bali Bylaw No. 16/2009 on spatial planning that banned any development in sacred areas. The bylaw was adopted from a religious edict issued by the Indonesian Parisadha Hindu Council (PHDI) in 1994. (liz/kes)(+)

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