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Homework for Bali's New Governor

WALHI – Environmental Watchdog Present an 'Open Letter' to Governor Made Mangku Pastika.

(8/30/2008) Beritabali.com reports that the Bali Chapter of Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) welcomed Bali's new Governor Made Pastika by delivering an "open letter" congratulating him on his appointment and serving notice on a number of pressing environmental issues facing the Island.

Among the points raised in the letter:

● A reminder that Pastika's campaign for governor promised to work to raise the average income of the Balinese by at least 100% should not result in "selling Bali cheap" to potential tourism investors or in a sacrificing the Island's natural environment.

● A call on the government to be more selective in choosing suitable investments for Bali, bearing in mind the Island's limited resources and the problems being caused by many ongoing tourism projects.

Among the "problematic" projects highlighted by WALHI in the letter to the Governor were:

Geothermal Project in Bedugul - WALHI's letter stated that most of the people Bali and the Provincial House of Representatives have rejected the Bedugul Geothermal Project and called on the Governor to support the people's wishes by closing down that project.

Reclamation of Land at Loloan Yeh Poh - WALHI explained to the Governor that Loloan Yeh Poh is the name of an estuary on Berawa Beach in Kerobokan that is now claimed by a local investor for reclamation and the construction of villas. The local population in that area has rejected the project on the basis that the estuary area is considered sacred grounds and used for the collection of holy water. Balinese wishing to preserve access to the holy waters and adjoining beach areas are insisting that the area should not be subject to private ownership and must remain in the public domain. The letter calls on Governor Pastika to preserve this sacred land and all other sacred lands in Bali, such as Uluwatu and Besakih, which WALHI claims are under siege by investors.

Construction of a Nature Tourism Project at Lake Buyan-Tamblingan - WALHI criticized a permit granted by the Minister of Forestry and recommendations from the Bupati of Buleleng for the construction of a villa in the Dasong jungle area of Lake Buyan-Tamblingan. In its letter, WALHI contends that only the Governor has the authority to issues permits for nature tourism projects and that Bali's previous governor had rejected the subject property because of the very limited amount of jungle tracts still remaining in Bali. In rejecting the application, former Governor Beratha had also invoked zoning rules that protect lake areas, jungles and mountains as "sacred areas" needed for water catchments. For these reasons, the local populace had also been vocal in rejecting the project. WALHI called on the Governor to stop the villas being constructed at Lake Buyan-Tamblingan and not issue any further recommendations in support of that project.

Alila Villa at Kelating Beach - WALHI told the Governor of the public shock at discovering a 35-villa "mega-project" on Kelating Beach at Kerambitan, Tabanan that violates set back rules, lacks the proper permits and licenses, is without the required environmental impact study and has never been socialized to the surrounding community. They also told the Governor that the Kelating project continues to be built despite the fact that the case and its various violations are under the supervision of the provincial government who ordered construction to stop. In its open letter WALHI called on the governor to stop the project and compel the developer to demolish the existing buildings and return to site to its original state in order to underline to the wider community that violation of environmental rules and zoning rules will not be tolerated in Bali.

WALHI told the Governor that there are many other investment projects that are damaging Bali's environment and threatening local culture, choosing to initially highlight only four projects for his initial attention.

The environmental watchdog group called on Governor Pastika to take firm action against all investors, local entrepreneurs or villagers who break environmental and zoning laws as a first step to ensuring social justice and economic sustainability.

WALHI - the originators of the "open letter" to the Governor is the largest non-governmental environmental organization in Bali comprised of 8 stake holding organizations, namely: The Bali Legal Aide Society (LBH), the Indonesian Association of Legal Aide and Human Rights (PBHI), the Bali Fair Trade Foundation, the Gandipuri Ashram, the LIMAS Foundation, and the Buleleng Institute for the Study and Bali’s Development (LP3B), the Tabanan Bali Santi Working Group, the Reksa Semesta Foundation and tens of individual members across the Island.