Indonesia: Govt to continue reclamation project despite court ruling

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya and Ayomi Amindoni The Jakarta Post 14 Sep 16;

The government has given a green light to the controversial reclamation project of Islet G in Jakarta Bay to resume despite the ruling of the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) that had ordered a halt to any construction activities on the artificial island.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, along with representatives from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, held a meeting on Tuesday on the reclamation project at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry where Luhut serves as an acting minister.

"There was no problem with the PTUN's ruling because it was not yet final and binding," he told journalists on Tuesday after the meeting.

In a court ruling issued on June 31 in favor of local fishermen in Jakarta Bay, the PTUN ordered the developer of Islet G, Muara Wisesa Samudra, a subsidiary of property giant Agung Podomoro Land, to halt its reclamation activities because of the environmental damage and social impacts it was causing, as well as its lack of legal standing. The court also ordered Ahok to revoke the city’s permit for the development, issued in December 2014.

Furthermore, Luhut said that the government would make a detailed announcement on the issue on Thursday. Tuesday's meeting had several changes in the schedule. Luhut and Ahok were first scheduled to hold a 1 p.m. meeting, but then postponed it to 5:30 p.m and moved it to Luhut's office before announcing that the meeting was again postponed. The meeting proceeded at 7:30 p.m. and was moved to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry office.

Previously in the State Palace, Luhut said the decision was taken after conducting thorough studies on the project. The government would also prioritize the welfare and livelihood of as many as 24,000 local fishermen in Jakarta Bay in accordance with the order of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"Don't say that we will not take care of the fishermen. We will even provide them [with better facilities] with funds from the local administration and from the reclamation projects," Luhut said at the State Palace prior to his meeting with Ahok, adding that he urged the public not to politicize the issue.

The previous coordinating maritime affairs minister, Rizal Ramli, announced in June that the developer of Islet G had committed gross violations as the construction of the artificial island was taking place on top of underwater electricity cables and in shipping lanes. Thus, the government decided the developer should halt the construction, as it would also contribute to environmental damage and disturb vital strategic projects and ship traffic. (rin)


Mounting Protest Against "Island G" as Reclamation Project Set for Restart
Alin Almanar Jakarta Globe 13 Sep 16;

Jakarta. Dozens of students rallied in front of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs office in central Jakarta on Tuesday (13/09) to protest the on again-off again reclamation project off the northern coast of the capital.

The demonstration came after hints from the Chief Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan that development on island G, one of the 17 artificial islands in the disputed project, will be restarted after months of being suspended.

The University of Indonesia (UI) students insisted that the project poses grave impact on the environment.

"The project has already damaged the coastal ecosystem," Arya Ardiansyah, head of the UI student committee, said in the rally.

Arya said a joint committee comprising officials from the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry has already conducted an examination which reveals the damages.

According to the committee, island G's development has led to environmental degradation, disturbed shipping activities and damaged electrical cables and gas pipelines.

The findings led Rizal Ramli, the chief maritime minister four months ago, to suspend the development of the island temporarily.

Tuesday's protesters also insisted that the reclamation project could not proceed as it is still subject to a legal dispute.

A panel of judges at the State Administrative Court four months ago annulled the gubernatorial decree allowing the development of island G, in favor of a petition to stop the construction from a group of fishermen in North Jakarta.

"If the government presses ahead with the reclamation project, it will violate the law," Arya said.

Having replaced Rizal two months ago, Luhut hinted last week that development on island G will begin again soon, arguing that he had found no reason to continue the suspension after examining the case.

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has also staunchly defended the reclamation project, amid mounting opposition from environmental activists and local fishermen.

"The northern coast of Jakarta should not be privatized for business profits," Arya said.


Indonesia to resume work on 'Giant Sea Wall' to save sinking Jakarta
Channel NewsAsia 14 Sep 16;

JAKARTA: Indonesia will resume land reclamation that will help prevent Jakarta from sinking below sea level, a cabinet minister said, five months after work was suspended due to regulatory and environmental concerns.

Greater Jakarta, one of the world's most densely populated cities, sits on a swampy plain and is sinking at a faster rate than any other city in the world.

Jakarta has focused its attention on bolstering its defences with a 15-mile sea wall and refurbishing the crumbling flood canal system.

The government decided late on Tuesday to allow work to continue on a key phase of the "Giant Sea Wall", which aims to shore up northern Jakarta while revamping the capital's image into a Singapore-like waterfront city.

"If this Giant Sea Wall is not done, that will create a big impact on Jakarta with regards to salt water penetration," Coordinating Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters on Tuesday.

Included in the master plan is the building of 17 artificial islands off Jakarta's northern coast, where property developers plan to build shopping malls and attractions similar to Singapore's Sentosa Island.

But work on that project was suspended in April following disagreements between the government and the Jakarta governor over who had authority to issue permits. Some fishermen have also protested against reclamation, saying it would reduce their catch.

In response, the government plans to offer them fishing permits in waters near the Natuna Islands.

The suspension in April also threatened to delay Indonesian property developer PT Agung Podomoro Land's multi-billion-dollar Pluit City, comprising apartments, offices and shopping malls on parts of artificial land it was constructing.

"We are still waiting for government direction," said Justini Omas, the company's corporate secretary. "Previously, we had planned that construction of the island would be done in 2018."

Earlier this month, former Agung Podomoro executive Ariesman Widjaja was jailed for three years for bribing a member of the Jakarta provincial assembly to influence the regulation for the land reclamation, media said.

- Reuters/rw


Study on Jakarta's giant sea wall to be wrapped up in October
Antara 14 Sep 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Study on Jakartas giant sea wall project called National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) will be wrapped up next month, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) said here on Wednesday.

"Study is still in process. There has been no conclusion," Bappenas chief Bambang Brodjonegoro said, adding the result of the study would be reported to the president.

Construction of the project will be carried out in three phases . Phase A is to strengthen the system of the sea and river wall already existing . Construction of this phase is to be completed in 2017.

Work in Phase B is to start in 2018 building offshore walls in the western side of the Jakarta bay to be completed in 2025.

Construction of project in Phase C is to start after 2025 building sea walls offshore eastern side of the Jakarta bay.

The plan is there will be reclamation and construction of 17 islands in the Phases B and C, Bambang, who is also Minister of National Development Planning, said.

The study by Bappenas is important as it will determine the designs and distance between the man made islands from the land, he said.

The developers are required to prepare environmental license by considering the existence of the sea walls, he added.

However, island reclamation is not the focus of attention, but the need to build the giant sea walls as sea water intrusion already reached the National Monument (Monas) in the center of the capital city, he said.

"In Monas, salted water is already mixed with fresh ground water. It would be very dangerous for Jakarta in the future, especially with the climate change. The waves would be higher, and there would be more rob flooding in North Jakarta. Therefore, the giant sea wall is vital," he said.

Bambang said apart from preventing rob flooding and sea water intrusion , the sea walls are expected to result in improvement in the quality of groundwater in Jakarta.

"Concrete wall would be built round the Jakarta bay . The water that flows toward the land could provide a new source of clean water for us, helping Jakarta in drinking water supply," he said.

When asked about statement of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources Luhut Panjaitan that Jakarta bay reclamation projects could be continued, Bambang said "I dont know if he has other sources.

Bappenas is concerned with studying the importance of the giant sea wall project for Jakarta, he said.

Reclamation is already in progress in the Jakarta bay building 17 man made islets by big property companies.

Luhuts predecessor Rizal Ramli ordered to stop work in the project but Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) disputed the decision resulting in moratorium.

The statement by Luhut that work could continue to build the Jakarta reclamation project drew strong protest from a group of people including students and fishermen.

Defending the project, Ahok has said the reclamation project is the answer to Jakarta bays pollution problem as the mega project would help restore contaminated water and fix the environment of the capitals coastal areas.

The city administration had discussed the projects with the director general for coastal and small islands at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Ahok claimed.

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

Ahoks statement is in contrast with environmental experts and activists who believe that the reclamation project threatens the Jakarta Bay environment.(*)


Reclamation Project Serious Breach of Environmental Standards: Walhi
Alin Almanar Jakarta Globe 14 Sep 16;

Jakarta. The government's decision to continue with the development in one of the artificial islands off the northern coast of Jakarta is a serious breach of environmental standards, environmental group Walhi said.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan announced on Tuesday (13/09) the suspension on development on the so-called "Island G" will be officially lifted this Thursday.

Island G is one of the 17 artificial islands listed in the troubled North Jakarta reclamation project.

The decision came four months after Luhut's predecessor Rizal Ramli suspended the development of the island, based on findings that it would degrade the already fragile environment of the northern coast.

Edo Rakhman of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) concurred with the findings, saying: "The potential for sedimentation will get bigger. Fishing areas will be even more limited. The pattern of sea currents will change. And biodiversity will be adversely affected."

"The development violates environmental laws, it will destroy Jakarta's coastal area and the islets around it."

The laws Edo referred to are the 2009 law on the protection and management of the environment and the 2007 law on the management of coastal areas and islets.

The laws require that any development in the area be preceded with an environmental impact analysis.

A decree issued by the Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya in May stated that reclamation procedures on Island G had deviated from what was recommended in the environmental impact analysis.

Luhut meanwhile said his ministry had thoroughly examined the environmental impacts of reclamation before deciding to continue with the project.

"Just wait for the details on Thursday," Luhut, who currently also serves as the caretaker energy and mineral resources minister, said.


Mounting Protest Against Restart of North Jakarta Reclamation Project
Alin Almanar Jakarta Globe 13 Sep 16;

Jakarta. Dozens of students rallied in front of the offices of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs in Central Jakarta on Tuesday (13/09) to protest against the on-again off-again reclamation project off the capital's coast.

The demonstration came after hints from Chief Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan that development on Island G, one of the 17 artificial islands in the disputed project, will be restarted after work was suspended several months ago.

Students from the University of Indonesia (UI) insisted that the project will have a grave impact on the environment.

"The project has already damaged the coastal ecosystem," Arya Ardiansyah, head of the UI student committee, said in the rally.

Arya said a joint committee comprising officials from the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has already conducted an examination which reveals the damages.

According to the committee, Island G's development has led to environmental degradation, disturbed shipping activities and damaged electrical cables and gas pipelines.

The findings led former chief maritime minister Rizal Ramli to suspend the development of the island temporarily four months ago.

The protesters also insisted that the reclamation project should not proceed as it is still subject to a legal dispute.

A panel of judges at the State Administrative Court earlier annulled the gubernatorial decree allowing the development of Island G in favor of a petition to stop the construction from a group of fishermen in North Jakarta.

"If the government presses ahead with the reclamation project, it will violate the law," Arya said.

Having replaced Rizal two months ago, Luhut hinted last week that development on Island G will begin again soon, arguing that he had found no reason to continue the suspension after examining the case.

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has also staunchly defended the reclamation project, amid mounting opposition from environmental activists and local fishermen.

"The northern coast of Jakarta should not be privatized for business profits," Arya said.

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