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Acting Up to Save Baliís Environment

Environmentalists and Student Activists Protest Bali International Park Project Via Theatrical Protests at Governorís Office


Bali News: Acting Up to Save Baliís Environment
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(10/21/2011)

Student and environmental activists joined forces in staging “street theater” in front of the office of Bali’s governor on Wednesday, August 10, 2011, to protest a lack of consistency by the provincial government in the application of a moratorium on new tourism developments in South Bali.

Beritabali.com describes how, via the street-theater presentations entitled “Investors Gobble up the Land of Bali”, the protestors depicted a small island being divided among investors who, in order to rake in dollars, lust to build an endless variety of projects and facilities.

The protestors claim investors have appropriated every corner of the island in order to build luxurious hotels, villas, golf courses and shopping centers. In their theatrical presentation, the students passed out large suitcases emblazoned with the slogan “Komisi $$$” – bags of money they claim are delivered to the government so their projects will go smoothly.

Haris, identified as the secretary general of Frontier Bali (Front Demokrasi Perjuangan Rakyat), told the press that the theatrical protest was directed at the Governor of Bali who his organization views as inconsistent in the application of the moratorium on new development. The inconsistency cited by the group was the governor’s acceptance of the Bali International Park (BIP) project in South Bal despite the pre-existence of a moratorium on new hotels.

The controversial Bali International Park (BIP) project is proposed by the government to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference Summit to be held in Bali in November 2013. A ministerial decree in support of the project has named PT Jimbaran Hijau as the project’s developer.

Those opposed to BIP criticize the governor’s acquiescence to the Jakarta-driven scheme and his readiness to suspend a moratorium on new projects announced by governor Pastika in December 2010.

In initially announcing the moratorium the governor alluded to the existing oversupply of hotel rooms in Bali.

A separate study conducted in December 2010 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in cooperation with Bali’s Udayana University said there was at that time an oversupply of 9.800 hotel rooms in. Meanwhile, estimates are that an additional 10,000 rooms will come on line in 2011, further aggravating the oversupply problem.

Bali currently has 55,000 hotel rooms, a total considered sufficient to serve the demand through 2015.

Haris said, “the oversupply of tourism facilities will cause both social and ecological damage due to the lack of concern for the environmental carrying capacity (of the island).”

Suriadi Darmoko, the internal deputy of the Bali’s chapter of the Indonesian Environment Movement (WAHLI), said a moratorium on new building in South Bali was a pressing need as Bali needs to urgently take inventory and calculate the future carrying capacity of the island’s eco-system.

The government’s environment department in 1995 predicted that Bali would suffer an acute water crisis by 2015 with a water deficit of 27.5 billion cubic meters in that year. Protestors point to the growing incidents of conflict over water sources as early warnings of the worsening water crisis to come.

Darmoko said the BIP was an “ordered project” from Jakarta, forcing governor Pastika to violate his own moratorium on new hotel projects. The WAHLI officials said Bali’s governor must have the courage to fight for Bali’s environment and “not be force to swallow his own rules in order to satisfy the desires of the central government.”

The protestor see the argumentation in support of BIP as needed to support the coming APEC conference as nebulous. They point to Bali’s hosting of the U.N. 2007 Climate Change Conference in which more than 12,000 participants from 189 countries participated. The 2007 climate exceeded the 10,000 expected to attend the 2013 APEC conference.

The protestors also regretted what they saw as the government closing its eyes to the plight of farmers who will be marginalized when their lands are usurped by the BIP project.

“For the BIP, for APEC, for the dignity of the nation – Bali’s environmental falls victim. Environmental injustice takes place and the farmer must grin and bear the loss of their rights,” said Haris.

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