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And Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The Bali Land Grab: Villa Developments at the Heart of Several Village Conflicts in Bali's North.

(1/21/2008) A report in the Indonesian-language Bali Post highlights the growing level of tension in local communities resulting from the current boom in real estate development across the island of Bali.

Villa developments at Seririt beach and Tangguwisia village in Bali's North have created community conflict on several level over matters relating to land use and the compensation paid by developers for use of land.

Tegalenge Village, Seririt Beach

On September 16, 2007 villagers in Tegalenge filed a formal police report against 6 fellow villagers who erected a barrier across an access road leading to a new villa development. While villagers had negotiated a public right-of-way through their lands to allow the construction of a villa project, the 6 men who have closed the road are now insisting they are not a party to any access agreement that transects land on which they claim to be the registered owners.

The villagers who have reported the six men to the police, meanwhile, claim the six were signatories to the original agreement making the barrier illegal.

Tangguwisia Village

At another villa project in North Bali, Tangguwisia villagers are seeking explanations and transparency on how Rp. 520 million (approximately US$55,300) paid to the village by a villa investor for communally-held land was used. In a third community meeting convened to discuss the matter on September 16, 2007, a crowd of 250 villagers forcefully demanded accountability from village officials who now admit that Rp. 382 million of the total paid by the developer has already been used "for various projects" and that only Rp. 128 million remain of which Rp.20 million is still held by the villa developer.

Villagers are demanding that the remaining funds be distributed to local community leaders and villager organizations.

Despite the fact that the developer has paid the majority of the agreed funds to the local village chiefs, local residents are adamant in their demand that the villa project be halted until the dispute over the funds is resolved.

Surprise Inspection by Local Legislators

An article in the Saturday, September 22, 2007 edition of the Bali Post reports that members of the regional parliament in Buleleng in the company of Regency officials undertook a surprise inspection at two projects along Seririt Beach on Friday, September 21. Visiting a the Tegalenge Village villa project and a “tower development” at Ringdikit village the official delegation met with investors and village leaders, urging the developers to acquire the proper permits and resolve any outstanding issues with local villagers.

When the delegation visited the “tower development” at Ringdikit they saw three virtually identical villas who, according to the local lawmakers, did not possess the required permits and licenses and also violated "set back" rules by being erected too close to the shore line.

During the visit, a representative of the developer insisted that the three villas were private residences and not commercial villas, an explanation discounted by the officials who pointed to the identical construction of each unit.

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