As his last presidential terms draw to a close, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has takens steps to legalize the controversial reclamation of Benoa Harbor in Bali.
Bisnis.com reports that Yudhoyono has published Presidential Decree No. 51/2014 addressing zoning and land concerning Bali’s capital of Denpasar and the regencies of Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan (Sarbagita).
One of the main points in the decree is a change of the use of a 700-hectare section of Benoa Bay from a conservation zone to become a “cultivation area” subject to reclamation.
The Presidential Decree dated May 30, 2014 is a revision of an earlier decree (No. 45 of 2011) that declared the same areas as a water conservation zone
The revision also changes small islands that were once conservations islands into a part of the heavily developed Serangan and Pudut Islands.
The new decree eliminates a large position of the Ngurah Rai Forestry Preserve (Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai) that in the earlier decree covered 1,375 hectares.
The latest decree identifies a “new” cultivation zone – known as “Zone P” that is comprised of wetlands and beaches that form part of the Benoa Bay.
Zone P is now stipulated to serve as an area of “public benefit” that can be utilized for sea-based enterprises, fishing, ports, transportation, tourism, economic development, residential purposes, cultural activities and religion.
Zone P – according to the decree – is the Benoa Bay transected by the new Bali Mandara Toll Way. The Zone includes the current port of Benoa and the water sports area of Tanjung Benoa.
It is also the areas where international soccer star Christiano Ronaldo – designated as the “official mangrove ambassador” - a title bestowed on the soccer legend by businessman Tommy Winata, symbolically planted trees in Benoa Bay accompanied by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Winata controls various hotel and property holdings including the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel in Bali and is the founder of the Artha Graha Peduli Foundation.
Widely criticized by local conservationists, including the WALHI Green Earth Group, who questioned the environmental credential of the entire event given Winata’s connections to PT Tirta Wahana Bali International – the business consortium seeking to develop an 831 hectare tract of Benoa Bay into a residential, tourism and F1 race circuit at a total investment value of Rp. 30 trillion.
Initial efforts by PT Tirta Wahanan Bali International to develop the area were thwarted by an earlier presidential decree that declared the project area a conservation zone. That impediment to the project has apparently now been removed by the new presidential decree.
Strong Public Opposition to Presidential Decree
The Bali Post reports community leaders, activists and Bali lawmakers are preparing to meet and map strategies to reject the Presidential Decree via appeal to the Indonesian High Court. Local groups opposed to any reclamation, claiming it violates Law No. 5 of 1990 on the protection of Indonesia’s eco-system that opponents to reclamation contend forbids the redesignation by presidential decree of any areas already declared as conservation areas.
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