Indonesia: Jakarta reclamation unnecessary -- Minister Susi

Dwi Atmanta, Corry Elyda and Agnes Anya The Jakarta Post 25 May 16;

Reclamation should only be a last resort after other efforts to enhance land supply have been exhausted, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti says.

Responding to a question from an Indonesian student attending a gathering at the Indonesian Embassy in Vienna on Sunday evening, Susi said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had given a clear guideline for reclamation projects.

“The President has underlined that reclamation shall not harm stakeholders, especially fishermen, the environment and prevailing regulations,” Susi said.

The government has suspended the Jakarta Bay reclamation project as doubts have been raised over the environmental impact and benefits the project could bring for the general public. The decision came after top executives of a property giant awarded permits for the project and a city council member were arrested in early April in connection with a bribery case pertaining to the megaproject.

Susi said reclamation would only be allowed for the construction of public facilities, such as a seaport or power plant.

“The Jakarta reclamation project is for property, which is not really needed,” Susi said.

“Jakarta may dream of emulating Dubai, which built artificial islets for exclusive property through reclamation. But Jakarta has been facing serious problems ,such as recurring floods and a clean water shortage, which may worsen if the reclamation goes ahead,” Susi added, to the applause of nearly 200 Indonesian nationals who packed the embassy’s Nusantara room.

Susi said reclamation could threaten not only the marine environment of the city but also state facilities situated near Jakarta Bay, including the Muara Karang power plant. The plant is the energy backbone of Greater Jakarta.

“To exacerbate the matter, the reclamation issue has been linked to politics. Suspension of the project was deemed politically motivated as it was decided ahead of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, but we would have suspended anyways,” Susi said.

She, however, said her authority was limited and that permanent termination of the project was the authority of the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

Separately, expert Muslim Muin of the Bandung Institute of Technology ( ITB ) said the city administration and developers could not compare the reclamation project in Jakarta Bay to those in other cities such as Dubai.

“Dubai does not have 13 rivers downstreaming to its sea, so it will not be threatened by flooding,” Muslim, who earned his doctorate degree in ocean engineering from the University of Rhode Island, said.

He argued the islets would create canals effectively extending the flow of rivers into the sea. He said it would increase dredging sedimentation along the coast and if it was not dredged, the surrounding area would be prone to flooding.

The Corruption Eradication Commission ( KPK ) is questioning the legal basis used by the Jakarta administration in collecting contributions from the reclamation developers.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said on Tuesday that his administration decided the contributions based on an agreement with the reclamation developers in 2014, in which they decided on the additional contribution.

The agreement, he argued, was carried out based on his discretion rights as stipulated in Law No. 30/2014 on administrations.

Jakarta's artificial islands face fierce opposition
ARDI WIRDANA Nikkei Asian Review 25 May 16;

Hundreds of fishermen flock to island G, one of 17 land reclamation areas in Jakarta Bay, in an April 17 protest against the project. (Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association)
JAKARTA -- Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has earned plaudits in his two years as governor of Jakarta for his efforts to transform the capital into an orderly and modern metropolis. However, his support for property developers seeking to create luxury islands in Jakarta Bay has landed the governor in a political and legal mess.

The Jakarta Bay reclamation project in North Jakarta calls for 17 artificial islands, mainly to house high-end residential and commercial facilities. Eight are already under construction.

But the project is surrounded by controversy. It was first broached in 1995 when the Jakarta government proposed to then-President Suharto that building the islands would be a good way to expand the city's land area.

Although Suharto quickly issued a presidential decree approving the project it was strongly opposed by the environment and forestry ministry, which argued that reclamation would harm the environment. Over the next 20 years the issue became a subject of fierce conflict within the government and the courts. The environment ministry and the Jakarta city administration have refused to back down and have appealed every court ruling.

After suffering a setback with an unfavorable ruling by the Supreme Court in 2009, developers were buoyed by the arrival of Basuki as Jakarta governor. Basuki has openly supported the reclamation project, which includes 16 artificial islands owned by the developers and one by Pelindo II, a state port operator, which plans to use it to expand Tanjung Priok port.

Basuki believes the reclamation project will not only expand the city's land area by 5,100 hectares but also address land subsidence problems in the built-up area and water pollution issues in Jakarta Bay.

The capital is sinking by an average of 7.5 centimeters a year -- rising to 25 cm in coastal areas, according to academic studies. The governor has warned that Jakarta could be submerged in 10 years unless the city reclaims land off the north coast. Supporters say the reclamation project will combat water pollution by absorbing the toxicity of heavily polluted waters.

"In 40 years, if there is no reclamation, there will be famine because the number of citizens is increasing and there is not enough land," Basuki told reporters last month. Unfortunately for the governor, however, the project has become mired in conflicting laws and regulatory oversight.

Two laws govern the island reclamation project. The first relates to spatial planning, which gives the regional administration the power to issue construction permits. But another law requires the environment ministry and the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry to give their approval after making environmental impact assessments.

The city government has ignored input from the environment ministry and issued permits to developers. But opponents have objected that Jakarta lacks legal authority for land reclamation, which means that the permits are illegal.