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(8/8/2008) Bali's many beaches are under siege. This problem is linked to the exotic tropical quality of the island's beaches found at Candidasa, Gianyar, Kuta, Tanah Lot, Kelating, Soka and Medewi at Jembrana. Bali's worldwide reputation and God's handiwork are luring investors who apparently have little regard for the long term effect of their desire to get their parcel of prime real estate in paradise.
According to the Bali Post, the Regency of Gianyar only possesses around 15 kilometers of beach front, much of that now occupied by villa developments.
These development have managed to change the function of centuries-old agricultural lands and religious grounds in little more than five years. This is most evident at Cucukan beach, Desa Medahan and Blahbatuh in Gianyar. The sacred temple of Pura Sukaluwih on Saba beach, Blahbatuh, now stands in the very shadow of newly built villas. Local villagers carrying their offerings and seeking to pray at that temple are now compelled to maneuver their way through a construction site to arrive at the ancient temple.
In partial response, a member of Commission A of the Regional House of Representatives for Gianyar (DPRD), I Made Mawa, has called for an urgent review of the manner in which tourism permits and licenses are granted and the state of the current regulations now in place. Mawa has also called on those who live in Bali’s traditional villages to play a more active front-line role in preserving and protecting Bali's culture. And, indeed, it is often the readiness of local villages to give up ancestral lands in return for quick cash, promises of employment and other future emoluments that has precipitated the worst excesses of villa developers.
In partial response to what is becoming an increasingly acute problem, the Head of Regional Department Planning Board for Gianyar, Wayan Dirgayusa, has promised to soon undertake a survey of development along his region's beaches, including a review of compliance with permits and local regulations.
Bali's West, once ignored by developers, has Tabanan now plainly in investor's sights. Very much in the news of late, is a large 35-villa project being built on Kelating Beach at Kerambitan and managed by the Alila Hotel group. Appearing to be making a mockery of 100 meter setback rules from the high tide mark, high-profile coverage of that project in the local Bali press prompted a "stop work" order from the Tabanan government. However, a recent visit to that site suggest that work may be continuing behind hastily erected plywood blinds that now shield the project from public scrutiny.
The Bali Post has openly questioned the duplicity of Tabanan's supervisory role in regional development that has allowed the construction of illegal structures without fear of reprimand or rebuke over the past eight months.
Tri Hita Kirana
The central theme of Balinese life - Tri Hita Kirana - the demand that balance be maintained between God, man and nature has somehow been forgotten in Bali's current "building boom." In Tabanan, Uluwatu and Candidasa local lands are being sequestered and diverted from their traditional agricultural pursuits. Over-ambitious engineers and architects cock-surely build "dream villas" in lands that routinely suffer the ravages of intruding surf. Developers routinely fail to socialize their projects to the local populace or produce the mandatory environmental impact study (amdal) that should be in hand well before commencing any development work.
Seemingly, when there's money to be made and villas to be sold – God, man and nature can wait their turn.
The Role of the 100 Meter Set Back Rule
The rules stipulating minimum set backs from ocean fronts and river banks in force across the island of Bali were wisely formulated. These rules serve the dual function of protecting seaside dwellers from the dangerous vagaries of Bali's surf while at the same time preserving access to the seaside for all Balinese to enjoy a day at the beach or offer traditional prayers at the seaside during local festivals and rites of passage.
Guaranteed Rate of Returns?
Meanwhile, the subject units at Kelating are said to be selling briskly, with unit owners buoyed by promises of minimum rates of return over an initial buy-in year period. What remains to be seen, however, is the actual resale value of these units at the end of the guarantee period for villas built on shifting sands and in violation of local regulations.
A seaside villa when the sea is in your living room tends to do badly on the local real estate market.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are recent photos of the Kelating development, now enclosed behind plywood blinds.
Villa Comstruction on Kelating Beach
click image to enlarge