Indonesia: Government urged to halt Jakarta coastal reclamation project

Andi Abdussalam Antara 7 Apr 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A political party leader and fishermen have called on the Jakarta authorities to halt the North Jakarta coastal reclamation project until all legal and environmental aspects of the project are settled.

"The reclamation process could be continued if its environmental impact analysis and legal aspects have been settled," Mardani Ali Sera, deputy secretary general of the Executive Board of the Prosperous Justice Party, noted in a written statement on Wednesday (April 6).

The Jakarta reclamation project, in which at least 17 reclaimed islands and a waterfront city will be built, was initiated in the era of the New Order government over two decades ago. However, environmentalists are opposed to the plan, claiming that it would destroy the ecosystem and worsen the annual flooding.

According to Mardani, the North Jakarta Bay reclamation project needs to be halted and re-discussed from the perspective of ensuring the prosperity of Jakartas residents.

He stated that the process of reclamation could be continued after its environmental impact analysis and legal aspects had been addressed.

The relevant parties should also ensure that the reclamation process meets the required condition to offer benefits to people from different sections of the society such as the high, middle, and lower income groups.

After all, the reclamation and waterfront city mega project is seen as only benefiting the people of the upper classes and marginalizing fishermen whose livelihood depend on the Jakarta Bay.

Therefore, Secretary General of the Peoples Coalition for Fishery Justice (Kiara) Abdul Halim called on the authorities to halt the project as it had not yet secured a legal umbrella through the issuance of the Jakarta bylaw on the zoning of its small isles and coastal areas.

Halim remarked that the Jakarta Bay reclamation project was not advantageous for the coastal community and will only benefit big property developers.

"It will only benefit property developers. The coastal communities, in this case, the fishermen, will not be benefited," Kiaras secretary general affirmed on Wednesday. He said the coastal communities include the fishermen and fish farmers who cultivate cultured fish and oysters.

PKS deputy secretary general Mardani added that the reclamation could be continued after the legal and environmental aspects have been settled, taking into account the interest of lower-income people.

It should meet the mixed society concept, providing benefit for upper and lower classes of people.

"It should be ensured that the reclaimed land will be used to develop a residential complex for people from different income groups, with a ratio of one luxury, three middle-class, and six modest houses," the PKS deputy secretary general explained.

Jakarta chief development planner Tuty Kusumawati claimed that the spatial plan for the North Jakarta reclamation project had been formulated based on public interest.

"Of the total planned reclaimed islands, some 50 to 55 percent of each island is made available for the people," she noted on Monday.

Of the 50 percent land area designated for the people, some 20 percent of each island are set for open and green spaces, 5.0 percent for blue spaces or lakes and water catchment areas; 5.0 percent for social and public facility areas; 5.0 percent road infrastructure; and public beaches covering at least 10 percent of the islands coast.

The issue on the reclamation of the North Jakarta coastal area came to surface following the disclosure of an alleged corruption scandal linked to the drafting of bylaws governing the zoning plan for the Jakarta island and coastal areas.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Friday (April 1) announced it has named as suspect Mohamad Sanusi, chairman of the Gerindra Party faction in the Jakarta Legislative Assembly, for allegedly receiving a bribe in connection with the drafting of the bylaws.

According to reports, the KPK also named the president director of PT Agung Podomoro (one of the project developers), Ariesman Widjaja, who allegedly has paid Rp2 billion in bribes to Mohamad Sanusi, in connection with deliberation of draft bylaws on zoning plan for Jakartas coastal area and small isles for 2015-2035 and on spatial plan for strategic North Jakarta coastal area.

KPK on Thursday (March 31) confiscated evidence in the form of cash money worth Rp1.14 billion out of a total of Rp2 billion commitment that has been paid by Ariesman to Sanusi through PT Agung Podomoro Lands personal assistant Trinanda Prihantoro.

The draft bylaws have been discussed for the past several months but the Jakarta provincial government and the Jakarta legislative assembly still failed to reach an agreement over them.

PKS deputy secretary general Mardani Ali Sera emphasized that the KPK should aggressively investigate the mastermind behind the corruption scandal linked to the reclamation project in North Jakarta.

Mardani stressed that all parties involved in the reclamation project such as members of the Jakarta Regional Legislative Assembly (DPRD), the private sector and the Jakarta government must also be investigated.

"The KPK will summon all parties involved in the drafting of the bylaws for questioning," KPK acting spokesperson Yuyuk Andriati stated on Monday (April 4).

The idea to reclaim the north Jakarta coastal areas surfaced during the New Order government. It was stipulated in Presidential Decree No.17/1994 on the northern coast as a potential area. One year later, President Soeharto issued Decree No.52/1995 which stipulated that the reclamation would be done in North Jakarta.

The plan to implement the reclamation project was contained in the Jakarta government bylaw No. 8/1995. However, the environment ministers decree no. 14/2003 said the reclamation could not be done until its environmental impact analysis (AMDAL) stated the project is feasible.

In 2003, six developers of the project sued the environment minister for its decree which said the north Jakarta coastal area reclamation breached AMDAL regulation. The high court ruled in favor of the six companies, but at the Supreme Court (MA), the environment minister won the appeal.

Thus, in 2004, then President Megawati Soekarnoputri asked then Jakarta governor Sutiyoso to review the-Rp20 trillion-worth reclamation project which stretched 32 km along the Jakarta northern coast.

On the continuation of the project, regardless of the fact that Presidential Decree No. 52/1995 has been annulled by Presidential Decree No. 54/2008, Jakarta chief development planner Tuty Kusumawati said what has been revoked in decree no. 52/1995 was the article concerning the spatial planning while that concerning the authority and issuance of license were not revoked.

"Article 4 stipulates that the authority and responsibility of reclamation are in the hands of the Jakarta Governor," she said.(*)

Q&A: The problem with Jakarta's land reclamation
Devina Heriyanto 7 Apr 16;

Following the controversy regarding the reclamation of Benoa Bay in Bali, now another reclamation project has become the news headlines. As a huge project off the coast of the capital city, Jakarta’s land reclamation has attracted the spotlight, particularly after the recent case of graft by the CEO of one of the project’s developers, Agung Podomoro Land.

What does ‘land reclamation’ mean?

Land reclamation refers to the activity of building more land or adding land area to a small island (or islet) or reef, making it bigger and more habitable. On a bigger scale, land reclamations result in artificial islands.

Jakarta’s land reclamation project is a project initiated by the Jakarta city administration involving the construction of 17 manmade islands on the northern coast of the city, which are being developed by private companies.

What is the objective of the project?

The current governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, or Ahok, has repeatedly argued that the land reclamation project is needed to help Jakarta solve its land problems. Jakarta is facing threats from subsidence and rising sea levels, which combined, he says, will be far worse than Jakarta’s annual flood problem.

Subsidence refers to the gradual sinking of the city. Jakarta is sinking an average of 7.5 centimeters per year, and by up to 25 cm annually in areas near the coast, which is even faster than the rate of subsidence in Venice, Italy. Most of the sinking happens due to the massive extraction of groundwater from below the city, as Jakarta is the most populated area in Indonesia.

The land reclamation project was initially a part of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) plan, more popularly known as the The Great Garuda, which aims to build a seawall to keep water out of the city and to help slow subsidence. However, the land reclamation project was taken over by the Jakarta city administration and environmental experts, including the deputy director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), have stated that the land reclamation itself will not help the subsidence problem.

What is the problem with the land reclamation project?

As the project builds at least 17 artificial islands with a projected total area as big as Bogor, it will significantly alter and degrade the already fragile environment of coastal Jakarta. The presence of artificial islands will change sea currents, which can lead to the erosion of nearby natural islands or even more flooding of the city. Fishermen have protested, saying that the project will affect their catch, and that they will have to go further out to sea to fish, increasing their gasoline expenses.

The environmental impacts of the Great Garuda Wall, a separate but related project, will be even more drastic. When finished, the waters inside the wall will lose its salinity, changing the sea into freshwater. Many species will have to migrate outside the wall and the mangrove forest in northern Jakarta will disappear.

The project also clashes with other construction projects and existing infrastructure. The Transportation Ministry's Tanjung Priok Port Authority representative said that the land reclamation would hamper the passage of ships in and out of ports, and there are a number of seaports along the north coast, including Muara Angke, Sunda Kelapa, Tanjung Priok and Marunda.

The Indonesian Association of Submarine Communications Cable Systems representative warned that many telecommunications cables were located under a number of the planned islets. An accident could lead to the disruption of communications.

The fisheries and marine affairs minister has asked the city to delay the project, and later stated that the project required permission from the ministry since it affected the marine environment. Governor Ahok, however, argued that there should be no problem with the permit since the authority of the Jakarta governor was on the same level as that of a minister.

Most important is the effectiveness of the project itself in preventing subsidence. Environmental experts argue that the land reclamation will not help the subsidence problem. One NCICD consultant even stated that stopping groundwater extraction alone would stop the sinking within a decade.

What is Ahok’s position on this?

In response to the protest by local fishermen, Ahok stated that the fishermen had been “politicized”. Ahok also claimed that criticism of the project was merely a political attack to discredit him, as he has repeatedly been a target of critics since he took office.

Who will actually benefit from the project?

The developers, of course. The artificial islands are set to host luxurious real estate and golf courses, accessible only for those of higher income as the properties are being sold for Rp 30 million (US$2,200) per square meter.

Deputy governor for spatial planning and the environment stated that 30 percent of the reclaimed land area would be green area, and there would be housing provided for low-income residents. However, at Golf City for example, the planned low-cost rental apartments are only intended to house workers to support the wealthier community. Urban experts have expressed concern about whether the project will benefit the public at large or just the high-income residents of the gated community.

What about the graft case?

KPK investigators recently arrested Jakarta city councilor Mohamad Sanusi of the Gerindra Party and another suspect, identified as Geri, at a shopping mall in South Jakarta. Both of them received money from an employee of PT Agung Podomoro Land (APLN) that was intended to purchase the councilors’ support during the City Council’s drafting of a bylaw on zoning of coastal areas and small islands. Based on the bylaw, the company has to hand over 15 percent of the reclaimed land to the city administration. The bribe was intended to change that requirement to 5 percent. PT Agung Podomoro Land president director Ariesman Widjaja has been named a corruption suspect also.

An analyst from KDB Daewoo Securities Indonesia stated that Agung Podomoro Land owned much less land from the project than its competitors. In 2015, Agung Podomoro Land owned around 1,000 hectares, while PT Ciputra Development and PT Bumi Serpong Damai owned 4,000 ha and 6,000 ha, respectively. This lack of land makes the reclamation project crucial for Agung Podomoro Land.

Ahok stated that he would never agree to reduce the requirement, since it was based on expert advice. A document carrying the governor’s handwriting has been circulated on the internet, where Ahok appears to comment that a new requirement of 5 percent being based on an agreement between the governor and developers is “crazy” and “may lead to corruption”.

So what is the problem?

The problem lies in the possibility that the land reclamation does not help Jakarta’s subsidence problem – and that it will even lead to other environmental problems – and that the land will mainly be used by higher-income citizens instead of benefiting the public at large. The recent graft case reflects the tendency of developers to exploit land for private benefit instead of the public’s, fueling criticism of the project.

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