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North Bali Residents Upset by Beach Reclamation

Buleleng Officials Do Not Have Strict Standards to Determine Setback Rules from the Ocean's Edge.

(10/13/2008) BisnisBali says that citizens living along Baruna Beach near Pemaron Village in Buleleng are growing increasingly concerned with the impact of hotel and villa development which ignore the 100 meter set back rule from the high-water mark establish by law for the province of Bali.

North Bali tourism investors who undertake development of seaside acreage are accused by many long-term residents in Buleleng as destroying the local environment while denying access to precious beach areas used for traditional ceremonies.

When Bisnisbali.com visited the area on September 25, 2008, they saw substantial hotel developments built very close to the water with some developers dredging oceanic bottom lands to obtain fill to reclaim beach land and construct concrete seawalls. As a result, according to the newspaper, sandy beaches formerly used to land and store local fishing boats have now largely disappeared together with open beach areas once used for religious ceremonies.

One local resident told the paper, "I don't know, suddenly the beach was closed and there's not much the local people can do about it."

Meanwhile, information obtained from the Department of Public Works for Buleleng reveals that while the rule for the entire province of Bali stipulates a minimum 100 meter setback from the high water mark, Buleleng has yet to promulgate its own setback rules. In the absence of a firm rule, individual recommendations from the Bupati (Regent) of Buleleng are apparently used to stipulate setback requirements. The result: a mish-mash of close-to-the-beach construction with little rhyme or reason as to how the "safe" distance from the beach is actually determined.

In response to growing exposure in the media and numerous complaints from the public, local officials are now admitting that too much commercial construction is being erected perilously close to the oceanfront. Those same officials are promising to take action against violators, particularly those determined to be dredging the sea bottom to add soil to their meager beachfront.

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