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Ignoring Nature and Bali's Laws

Environmental Group Walhi Bali Cites Alila Villas' Tanah Lot Project as Violating Set Back Rules. Government Responds by Halting Project.

(7/7/2008) The Bali Post reports that a large project creating tens of villa units is underway on Kelating Beach, Kerambitan, Tabanan. According to the paper, a portion of the project rests directly on the shoreline of Kelating an area some distance north of Bali's famed Tanah Lot Temple.

The Director of the environmental watchdog group Walhi Bali, Agung Wardana, told Bali Post he was shocked after he saw the construction site for the new villas which he see as clearly violating beach setback regulations with several of the units standing only a few meters from the beach's edge. Following the publication of his objections in the Bali Post, Tabanan's Regent N. Adi Wiryatama, moved quickly to halt the project, summoning the investor, broker and local village chief to his office for urgent consultation.

The Regent's office told the press that the actual construction at the project site was not in conformance with the original plans submitted to his office which did not show the illegal construction on the beach front.

Alila Villas Tanah Lot

According to the website for the project, the luxury villa complex is being developed by PT Bhavana Andalan Kelating and will be managed by Alila Hotels and Resorts. That same website [Alila Villa's Tanah Lot Site Plan] show a site plan that appears very close to the shoreline while elsewhere on the website include a statement insisting the resort has been "designed, constructed and managed in accordance with Green Globe international environmental standards."

Quoted by the Bali Post, Wardana said he is very disappointed with many projects in Bali, including Tabanan which ignore environmental factors. He said that his organization will soon correspond with the Regent of Tabanan, following up his observations in the field.

Wardana, who is also a native of Tabanan, said: "We are very disappointed that such a large development is being undertaken without an explanation given to the public. We will also ask the Regional House of Representatives for Tabanan (DPRD) if they know of this construction. Let's hope our representatives have not been duped again."

The Bali Post said that during a visit to the site on Tuesday, June 16, 2008, they observe substantial construction activity at the site and the beach was being excavated with piles of soil in evidence along the beach.

According to a security guard on duty in the location, he knew that starting from about 8 months ago 35 villa units have been under construction at the site. Each unit has many room, explained the guard who hails from the local community.

The Threat of Tsunami

According to the guard, quoted by the Bali Post, he warned it is possible that the units located on the beach's edge will suffer erosion and abrasion if conditions such as those experienced a few year's back occur again. Refuting his suggestion, the developers of the villa project in their FAQ section state "in written history and in geological terms, there is no evidence that Bali has ever experienced tsunami conditions. The deep ocean conditions and the geographic location of the tectonic plates make such an event highly unlikely."

Such a claim, however, is curiously at odds with the fact that Bali's shores regularly record tsunami wave effects, fortunately mostly on a minor scale. According to Wikipedia, significant waves were generated in the Bali Sea by the 1815 Tambora volcanic eruption, and other geophysical events in 1818, 1857 and 1917. That Bali could potentially be affected by a sub sea earthquake anywhere on its wide ocean approaches is also acknowledged by the Indonesian government's installation of an extensive tsunami early warning systems to safeguard the Island's populated regions.

In the Bali Post report, a local citizen was quoted saying he regretted that the construction violates setback rules. According to the resident, the acquisition of the land has been underway since 2006. "As far as I know, there has been no socialization about the project (to the local population)," he explained.

Walhi Promises to Continue the Fight

In a page-one story in the Sunday, June 22, 2008, edition of the Bali Post the Chief of Walhi welcomed the news that the Regent had taken the firm action of stopping the errant project. At the same time he pledged that his organization would continue pursue the matter by issuing a formal "cease and desist" order (Somasi) against the regional government seeking to force officials to demolish the project and return the land to its original state.

Wardana said that the Alila Villas Tanah Lot project must not be allowed to stall and buy time while the investors seeking allowances and special considerations to allow the project to continue in its current configuration. The head of the local environmental group said the project had the potential of becoming a "colony of foreigners" who will close the access of locals to beach areas in order to preserve their privacy and enjoyment of the area.

Shown on balidiscovery.com are photos taken recently from the villa project now underway at Kelating beach.









Kelating Construction

click image to enlarge