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A Tidal Change Needed in How We Care for Bali's Oceans

More Coverage of Local Outrage and Response to High Pollution Levels Reported on Bali's Beaches.

(12/9/2006) As reported on balidiscovery.com [Protecting Bali's Beaches and its Tourism Reputation], increasing pollution along Bali's southern beaches is a source of growing public concern and closer scrutiny on how business and tourism operators across the island dispose of their waste and sewage.

Minister of Tourism Reacts

As reports of concerning levels of nitrates, bacteria and other pollutants in Bali's coastal waters arrived on his desk, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, called for quick action to stop the pollution which threatens the entire tourism industry. The Minister called for legal action against the perpetrators of the pollution, if that was necessary to clean up the Island's waters.

Although pollution enforcement fall under another branch of the Government, Minister Wacik has issued instructions to his staff in Bali to find out who is responsible for polluting the waters off Bali's beaches. Two days prior to the story reporting the Minister's "get tough" order in the Indonesian language Nusa Bali, that paper carried a front page photograph of a large sewage pipe discharging waste on Sanur beach, allegedly connected to a nearby star-rated hotel.

Local Reaction

Meanwhile, Nusa Bali reports that Denpasar's Mayor, Anak Agung Gde Ngurah Puspayoga, has issued orders to the City’s Environmental Service to track down the source of the pollution echoing a separate instruction from the Regent of Badung, A.A. Gde Agung, to the Provincial Environmental Impact Management Agency (Bappedalda) to get tough on polluters.

Jail Time for Polluting Hotel and Restaurant Owners?

In the most recent of a continuing series of page-one articles in Nusa Bali stretching over a time period of more than one week, a law expert from Bali's Udayana University, Professor Dr. I Dewa Gde Atmaja, explained that the environmental law of 1997 provided for punishments of up to 10 years in prison and Rp. 500 million (approximately US$54,400) in fines for those found guilty of polluting the nation's waterway and oceans.

The professor questioned the sincerity of local law enforcement officials who refuse to take definitive action against polluters despite having a clearly presented piece of legislation clearing the way for enforcement. According to the law professor, the same law also opened the possibility for local citizen's groups and environmental organization to file complaints with the police against companies they know to be polluting Bali's oceans.

A local environmental activist from Sanur told Nusa Bali that letters to local hotels complaining about specific instances of pollution have been largely ignored.