Indonesia to suspend land reclamation in north Jakarta

EVELINE DANUBRATA AND AGUSTINUS BEO DA COSTA Reuters 18 Apr 16;

Indonesia's government will temporarily halt all land reclamation in north Jakarta until regulatory and environmental conditions are met, a senior cabinet minister said on Monday.

A mega project involving 17 artificial islands off the northern coasts of the Indonesian capital has been dogged by bureaucratic wrangling, a bribery probe by the nation's anti-corruption agency and opposition from environmentalists.

The central government and the Jakarta governor had previously clashed over who has the authority to issue permits for the project. Some fishermen also staged a protest over the weekend, claiming the project was reducing their catch.

Construction will now be suspended and a joint committee will be formed to look into the issues, Rizal Ramli, Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs, told reporters.

"In analyzing, discussing and resolving this problem, we cannot be too emotional," he said, flanked by Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and Indonesian Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya at a joint press conference.

The decision could delay Indonesian property developer PT Agung Podomodo Land's multi-billion-dollar project called Pluit City, which was set to comprise apartments, offices and shopping malls on parts of the artificial land.

Earlier this month, Agung Podomoro executive Ariesman Widjaja was named a suspect by Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commision (KPK) for allegedly bribing a member of the Jakarta provincial assembly to influence the regulation for the land reclamation.

As of Monday's close, Agung Podomoro shares were down around 13 percent since the KPK's announcement.

A presidential spokesman declined to comment on the reclamation project, deferring questions to the ministries.

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Jakarta bureau; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Keith Weir)


Government finally suspends Jakarta Bay reclamation project
Antara 18 Apr 16;

Government finally suspends Jakarta Bay reclamation project
Activities construction project one of the islands in Jakarta Bay reclamation area in North Jakarta Beach. ANTARA PHOTO/Wahyu Putro A/kye/16 ()
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government finally decided to suspend the controversial Jakarta bay reclamation project.

The government stopped short of bowing to growing public demand to cancel the big project of building 17 islands in the bay.

"We ask to suspend construction until all requirements and law regulations are fully met," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli said.

Rizal said at a meeting also attended by the environment minister Siti Nurbaya, Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and officials of the marine and fisheries ministry, it was agreed to form a joint committee to find a solution to the controversy over the project.

The committee will make up of officials of the office of the coordinating minister for maritime, the environment ministry, the marine and fisheries ministry , the Jakarta city administration, the home affairs ministry and the state secretariat.

Siti Nurbaya among the problems to be solved related to analysis on environmental impact which needs to be completed.

The controversy over the real project surfaced when the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested a number of people including leaders of PT Agung Podomoro Land Tbk and Agung Sedayu Group the developers of the project.(*)


Jakarta Bay reclamation project might marginalize urban poor
Pewarta: Fardah Antara 18 Apr 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Jakarta Bay reclamation project has become controversial after a bribery case concerning the mega project came to light, and demonstrations against the project were staged by fishermen and the urban poor affected by it.

Calls to halt the reclamation project have been voiced by various parties, including Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, and Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, as well as by several legislators and NGO activists.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), however, has insisted that the work on the US$11.4 billion-worth project will continue as it will accommodate the interests of the public and state and will not harm the environment.

"Oh, please go ahead, if intending to stop it (the project), and a regulation should be (first) issued for it, but it should be from the president. Moreover, (the measure to) stop (the project) could be tested (challenged) in the Constitutional Court," Ahok noted in response to calls to halt the project.

Ahok said President Joko Widodo had no objections to any reclamation project as long as it did not harm the environment.

"I think, in principle, the president, who himself was a governor, sees nothing wrong with reclamation. All over the world, reclamation projects are being implemented. The president said the important aspect is that it should not damage the environment," Ahok remarked on April 15.

Ahok frequently cited Dubai and Singapore as successful examples of reclamation work, and the Jakarta Bay reclamation would make the city very advanced similar to them.

However, Minister Pudjiastuti has called on the Jakarta administration to halt the Jakarta Bay reclamation project until the developers met all necessary norms.

The reclamation was being carried out without any recommendation or observing coastal area zoning regional regulations," the minister told the press on April 15, after holding a hearing on the project with the Parliament two days earlier.

The House Commission IV and the Minister agreed to stop the project until all legal necessities are met by developers and the Jakarta authorities.

A reclamation project needs recommendation from the Maritime Affairs and Fishery Ministry.

In the meantime, Jakarta Senotor Fahira Idris has viewed that since the onset, the Jakarta Bay reclamation project has ignored the Jakarta residents right to information.

"The Jakarta residents have not received comprehensive information on the project to reclaim 17 islands for developing business centers and settlements," Fahira, deputy chairperson of Committee III of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) for Jakarta, noted recently.

Most of the information reaching the public only revealed that the reclamation was necessary and a noble deed to solve Jakartas problems of land shortage, flooding, and coastal damage, she stated.

In fact, Fahira believes that the project was more business-oriented than in tune with the publics interests.

Therefore, the Jakarta senator has urged the residents to reject the reclamation project.

"For me, the fate of the reclamation project lies in the hands of Jakartas residents. It is time for Jakartas inhabitants to demonstrate that this city does not belong to either the provincial administration or the Regional Legislative Council, and moreover, even not the property developers," Fahira emphasized.

The officials and businessmen can have the clout, authority, and money, but once the inhabitants of Jakarta stand united in rejecting the project, the reclamation work must be halted, she remarked.

The arrest of three people in connection with a bribery case concerning the reclamation project should serve as a momentum for the Jakarta public to be more alert and vocal regarding development programs in the capital city, she pointed out.

"The alleged bribery case is a tip of the reclamation iceberg. There are plenty more controversies and problems regarding the ambitious project," she noted.

Fahira quoted the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as saying that the Jakarta Bay reclamation projects case was considered to be a major corruption scandal as a lot of money was on stake and several people were involved in it.

Jakarta senator also pointed out that in accordance with President Joko Widodos maritime axis vision, a coastal area, which was environmentally degraded, should be revitalized by the regional administration instead of being reclaimed, because fishermen in the coastal areas relied on it for their livelihood.

Another harsh criticism came from M Fuad Nasar, an Islamic philanthropist, who said that modernization of Jakarta should not dehumanize and evict the poor people by force.

A dream to make Jakarta another Singapore through coastal area reclamation projects should not make the Indonesian people feel as if they were outsiders in their own country.

The authorities do not make comprehensive studies on the impacts of the reclamation project on the loss of jobs of those evicted and on the environment, particularly maritime ecology, he noted.

"Modernization should not cause effects of dehumanization and forced evictions of the poor," he said.

"Evictions in slum areas will not automatically alleviate poverty, in fact it widens poverty and the social gap. This should be given serious attention in implementing development in the capital city in the future," Fuad Nasar, consultant at the Fatwa Center, said.

He referred to the forced eviction of residents of Luar Batang and Pasar Ikan, North Jakarta, with some of the residents being moved to other areas and accommodated in low-cost apartments.

Previously, residents of Jatinegara in East Jakarta and Kalijodo in North Jakarta had also been evicted for violating the Jakarta administrations land special regulations.

Thousands of security officers were deployed to guard the evictions which were resisted by some affected residents.

"There were poor people being confronted, including old people, women and children. We are moved to see such an incident. Is there no other way, which is more civilized? Did the Jakarta government lose its mind that it took such repressive means and (evictions) by force?" he said.

"Has our local wisdom to prioritize consultation and a human approach towards our own people gone?" he said.

"It is not wrong if some people question, is Pancasila still being uphold as an ethical and moral foundation in development implementation," Nasar, a magister of the National Resilience Study Program of the Gajah Mada University (UGM), said recently.

Evictions by force will unintentionally trigger radicalization in the community, he believed.

"Children witnessed their homes being destroyed by heavy equipment, their parents screamed. There were many soldiers and policemen. What do you think they have in their minds?" he added.

Such treatment towards the grassroots people would make them lost their trust in Pancasila, he said.

The capital citys development progress would not receive God Blessing because there are too many cries and teardrops of the evicted people, he remarked.

In the meantime, the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) stated that the arrest of a Jakarta lawmaker over alleged bribery in the Jakarta Bay reclamation project should serve as a momentum to totally halt the reclamation project.

"Reclamation is not in the interest of the Jakarta public but would benefit a group of elites and capitalists at the expense of nature and will affect the traditional fishermen," Walhi Jakarta Executive Director Puput T.D. Putra noted in a statement recently.

Furthermore, Jakarta historian JJ Rizal told TVOne that the recent forced evictions of North Jakarta�s Luar Batang residents, mostly traditional fishermen, by the Jakarta Administration, is not in the interest of the lower-income people, but of major developers seeking to expand the land in connection with the Jakarta Bay reclamation.

The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) said reclamation of 17 islands in the Jakarta Bay has cut the income of local fishermen by about 40 to 50 percent.

"Obviously, it has had a big impact on the economy of traditional fishermen as their income has come down by 40 to 50 percent," KNTI chief patron Chalid Muhammad said recently.(*)

Reclamation project the answer to Jakarta Bay pollution woes: Ahok
Callistasia Anggun Wijaya Jakarta Globe 18 Apr 16;

The reclamation project is the answer to Jakarta Bay’s pollution woes as the mega project would help restore contaminated water and fix the environment of the capital's coastal areas, Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said on Monday.

The city administration has conducted discussions with the Director general for coastal and small islands at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Sudirman Saad, on the mega project consisting of 17 man-made islets off the coastal area of Jakarta, Ahok claimed.

The discussion resulted in the conclusion that reclamation was the answer for the heavily polluted waters of the Jakarta bay, Ahok added.

“Reclamation is not prohibited. Sudirman is the person who taught me that if the bay has been polluted, the technique to fix it is by reclamation to absorb the toxicity. There’s a book about it, just ask him,” Ahok told journalists at City Hall on Monday.

A joint Jakarta administration, Maritime Ministry and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry meeting on Monday afternoon will discuss the continuation of the controversial project, especially issues relating to permit issuance.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said on Friday she asked Ahok to halt the reclamation projects. Acknowledging that authority over the projects remained with the Jakarta governor, Susi reminded the city administration to fulfill all the requirements and acquire recommendations from her ministry before proceeding.

The project, which will add 5,100 hectares, half the size of Bogor city, to Jakarta’s total area, would benefit all Jakartans as long as the city administration acquired the 15 percent contribution from developers, Ahok said.

From the 17 planned islets, eight have already acquired permits and began construction.

Ahok's statement is in contrast with environmental experts and activists who believe that the reclamation project threatens the Jakarta Bay environment.

Chairman of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen's Association (KNTI) Riza Damanik said the toxic sediment in Jakarta Bay would enter the sea during the construction of the reclaimed islets.

This would worsen the water pollution in Jakarta Bay as the reclamation project would harm the sea biota as well as the residents of coastal areas, especially poor fishermen.

Furthermore, the other coastal areas in Banten province, where developers are taking the sand from, would also suffer environment degradation from sand dredging, Riza said.

"The Jakarta administration must stop the reclamation project and address the environmental damage that has occurred as a result of the reclamation,” Riza said in a discussion on the reclamation project on Friday.

The KNTI also pointed out flaws in the environmental analysis documents (Amdal) and strategic environmental assessment (KLHS) issued by the city administration.

The group urged the administration to completely halt the project, saying it threatened the livelihoods of thousands fishermen who lived along the coast.

According to KNTI speakers at the discussion, around 17,000 fishermen families had been the victims of the construction of islets C, D, and G, and the average fisherman’s income had dropped to Rp 30,000 (US$2.27) per day from the previous level of at least Rp 300,000. Reportedly, fishermen can now only catch 50 kilograms of fish, a stark contrast to their previous 1 ton catches.

"Reclamation has impoverished the fishermen. Traditional fishermen must also sail further, because the area that they previously used to catch fish has been turned into the islets," Riza said.

In a trial at the Administrative Court (PTUN) against the reclamation, KNTI alleged PT Muara Wisesa Samudra, a subsidiary of property giant Agung Podomoro Group, that acquired the permit to develop Islet G, to forging fishermen's signatures when completing their Amdal documents.

Moreover, KNTI also slammed the city administration for failing to include information about the environmental supporting capacity in the KLHS such as the increased need for clean water, energy, transportation and waste disposal.

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) public attorney Wahyu Nandang urged the city administration and central government to focus on the livelihoods of the fishermen and not just the their own profit.

The public must be at center of the project, he continued, adding that YLBHI would closely monitor the deliberations of reclamation bylaws once the discussions started.

"So there won’t be any ‘law smuggling’ during the process,” Wahyu said referring to deliberations on the Jakarta coastal spatial planning bylaws that have been plagued with controversy since the a corruption case involving city councilor Mohammad Sanusi and the Agung Pomodoro Group came to light. (rin)


Reclamation halted amid legal wrangling, scandals
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Agnes Anya The Jakarta Post 19 Apr 16;

On good terms: Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli (right) shakes hands with Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama before a meeting to discuss the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation projects on Monday. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar (left) also attended the meeting.(JP/DON)

The central government and the Jakarta administration have agreed to suspend the multimillion-dollar reclamation of land in Jakarta Bay to allow officials time to disentangle the legal knots binding the megaproject.

The decision was made after Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar and Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama met for an hour at Rizal’s office on Monday afternoon.

“We demand the reclamation project be halted until we can come up with a clear legal framework,” Rizal told a press conference after the meeting.

They also agreed to establish a joint team to review the regulations and the project development.

The construction of 17 artificial islets off the northern coast of Jakarta has been mired in controversy since the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Jakarta city councillor Mohamad Sanusi for allegedly accepting bribes from property giant PT Agung Podomoro Land to influence the drafting of bylaws on zoning in the project area.

The antigraft body later also arrested the company’s president director, Ariesman Widjaja.

Despite continued opposition on environmental grounds to the reclamation, the Jakarta administration and related developers have carried on with the projects for two decades.

It is estimated that developers of the 17 islands have poured at least Rp 1.5 trillion (US$114 million) into the megaproject.

Developer Agung Sedayu Group, which has even begun marketing properties on the islets it is developing, has meanwhile seen president director Sugianto “Aguan” Kusuma slapped with a travel ban for apparent involvement in corruption.

Siti recommended that all of the reclamation projects be discontinued pending coordination between the government and local administrations, including those of Tangerang in Banten and Bekasi in West Java.

The minister has yet to issue the relevant decree, however; she and her officials will first analyze the projects’ effects on the environment and local people and collect related documents from developers.

Acknowledging that developers might be reluctant to comply, Siti said she would not back down. “I have many ways [to force them to comply] if they refuse,” she warned.

The ministry’s standpoint is in line with that of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, which has revealed that reclamation in Jakarta Bay is illegal, as the city has yet to obtain the required permits from the ministry.

Siti added that the decree would be a binding regulation forcing regional administrations to halt the projects. “We will freeze their environmental permits. Developers will be unable to continue construction,” she said.

She revealed that her ministry had already found indications of environmental damage and potential loss to people who live or make their livings in the coastal area.

Those islets already under construction will be the initial targets of the ministry’s investigation, while the environmental impact of those yet to begin will also be analyzed.

The chair of House of Representatives Commission IV overseeing agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the environment, Edhy Prabowo of the Gerindra Party, said that the House applauded the minister’s initiative, calling on her to remain firm and impose sanctions on any party — whether developers or regional administrations — proven to have violated Law No. 32/2009 on environmental protection and management.

The commission plans to form a special inquiry to investigate the projects in greater depth.

“Reclamation has become a national and cross-sectoral issue. We should seek more information on the history behind the megaproject and look for links to the current irregularities,” Golkar Party lawmaker Ichsan Firdaus said, to the applause of fellow commission members.

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