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Protests Mount Against Proposed Golf Course in Bali's North

Karangasem Officials Tight-Lipped on Who are Backers for Large Golf Complex Planned for Foothills of Sacred Mt. Agung.

(8/9/2007) Vague plans to develop a 100 hectare site near Bali's sacred temple of Besakih into a golf resort complex are fomenting strong oppositon from many circles in Bali, all opposed to a resort development which has reportedly received a green light from the Regent of Karangasem.

Residents from the traditional villages of Tagenan and Menanga (near Rendang) are said to be up-in-arms over the appearance in recent days of unannounced surveyors pacing off their traditional farming lands. One local resident who's land was surveyed, quoted in Nusa Bali, insisted he was ready to wager his very life in violent opposition to any project that would violate the sanctity of the lands surrounding Bali's Mother temple complex. The man also said he could see no value whatsoever in building a golf course on his otherwise productive agricultural lands.

According to local press reports, the proposed golf resort will use 30 hectares of land owned by Subak Lipang - a 117-member traditional water district; 21.8 hectares owned by Subak Tubuh; 31.98 hectares owned by Subak Kampika; and 16.22 hectares owned by Subak Rendang. Local farmers are apparently unified in their opposition to the proposed golf course, despite promises that 600 jobs would be created once the project is completed. Local villagers are prophesizing dire material and spiritual consequences should the project go ahead, defiling in the process lands on the foothills of Mt. Agung considered sacred by the people of Bali.

Details on Investors a Mystery?

Complaining that their has been little or no socialization of the project to local residents, land owners are becoming increasingly enraged by the presence of land surveyors and low-flying helicopters seen in recent days over the area of the proposed golf course.

The Bupati of Karangasem insists that the plan for the golf course are still at an idea stage, denying at the same time rumors that the investors in the project are Jakarta-based legislators, members of the executive branch and leading press figures. Begging a follow on question from the press, the Regent told reporters, "I have never divulged the names of potential investors."

Tensions heightened on Thursday, August 2, 2007, when a group of demonstrators, representing the Young Hindu Movement, marched on Bali's Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD). The youths delivered a statement calling on Bali's Governor and the House of Representatives to refuse permission for the project which they claim will detract from the sanctity of the nearby Besakih temple. The demonstrators also called for the resignation of Regent Geredeg in Karangasem if it is eventually proven that he granted preliminary permission for the controversial project.