Indonesia: Halt construction on city’s coast line - LIPI

The Jakarta Post 8 Dec 15;

A LIPI researcher has recommended that the Jakarta administration limit construction on coastal areas in North Jakarta as a measure to prevent worse land subsidence and flooding.

Henny Warsilah, Indonesian director for the Management of Social Transformation (Most)-Unesco and social transformation researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that environmental degradation on the northern coast of Jakarta was caused by heavy building, including large construction projects in the area.

“The environmental damage causes the area to experience regular flooding,” she said from the sidelines of a discussion at LIPI recently.

Although she addressed all coastal cities in the archipelago, she specifically called on the Jakarta administration to stop new projects within coastal areas.

“The administration should apply the principles of urban resilience, where buildings, houses and malls on coastal areas are restricted in order to prevent flooding as a result of land subsidence,” she said.

According to her, environmental damage had not only threatened human lives with the occurrence of natural disasters but also endangered fishermen’s jobs because fish numbers had been decreasing around water where the environment had been damaged.

Traditional fishermen in Jakarta have long been complaining about dwindling income saying that they have had to sail further and further out in order to catch fish in the polluted Jakarta Bay.

Several fishermen have also protested the reclamation of 17 islets, projects which they said had further cut their income. After construction of new islets began, fisherman have said they often spot mud of various colors floating in Jakarta Bay. When such mud floated to the surface, fish were nowhere to be found for about a week or until the mud — sometimes white, sometimes pink or black — disappeared from the surface.

Henny said the government needed to educate those people living in coastal areas about the importance of protecting their specific environment. She said Indonesia had a variety of local wisdom about protecting the sea.

She cited awik-awik in Bali and West Nusa Tenggara as an example of such local wisdom. Awik-awik is traditional written consent containing prohibitions to catch fish using environmentally-unfriendly tools and with regard to cutting down mangroves.

Littoral areas in North Jakarta, such as Muara Angke, have seen regular tide flooding during rainy season at the end of every year. Experts said that the regular flooding had been caused by land subsidence due to ground water extraction in Jakarta.

In a LIPI press release on inclusive development of coastal community in Indonesia, the institution said that the current paradigm, which doesn’t support maritime development, had caused inequality at the expense of coastal communities.

“Coastal areas now experience a lot of problems such as natural disasters and social exclusion because coastal people are not included in the development process,” the release said.

The head of LIPI’s Center for Community and Cultural Research, Sri Sunarti Purwaningsih, said the key to prosperity in coastal areas is inclusive development, which involves the people living there.

Head of LIPI, Iskandar, said the glory of maritime culture in Indonesia has been overshadowed by the rapid development of the mainland, resulting in the impoverishment of the people in the coastal areas. (saf)

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