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Can Power and Purity Coexist?

Bali's Governor Calls on Press to De-Polarize the Polemic Surrounding Installing More High-Voltage Lines to Serve the Island's Critical Power Shortage.

(10/10/2009) Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika says one of the complications on supplying sufficient electricity for Bali stems from cultural objections to the installation of high-voltage power cables on towers leading into and across the island. The installation of high voltage lines are seen by some elements of the community as threatening the purity and sacred nature of Bali's ubiquitous religious temples.

Quoted in Beritabali.com, Pastika said: "Electricity is very important, we must have electrical sources, both from power sources on the island of Bali and from sources on the island of Java. Why don't we just bring (the power) to Bali? The problem is how to safely bring the electricity from Java."

"Safety" in this connection, Pastika explained, encompasses both safety for Bali's natural environment, safety for Bali's local culture, and a system that can be accepted by the people of Bali within the context of the larger public interest.

"Submarine cables from Java to Bali are technically dangerous, with many of the current submarine cables broken. One viable and relatively safe alternative would be a high voltage line suspended 350 meters above the sea's surface," Pastika explained.

Such a high voltage line would "descend" in an area within the West Bali National Park in Jembrana where cross-terrain cables standing 45 meters above ground level would be installed.

Pastika went on to say: "It makes sense if the high voltage cables ran through the West Bali National Park, providing they don't destroy the local environment. The radiation (from the cables) runs for only about 3 meters beneath the actual cables. The height of trees (in the park) is 20 meters, so with a cable height of 45 meters, it should be safe."

Plans to install high-voltage lines between Java and Bali, according to Pastika, have been reviewed by environmentalists and cultural experts. There are no technical issues barring the installation of the lines.

Pastika added emotionally: "The technical study is no problem, what remains a problematic are the social-cultural aspects and the popular opinion of the people. So you (reporters) help me, don't always write about those who are protesting about the purity of Bali and the purity of temples. If we are talking about the problem of purity (temples), nobody wants the purity of temples to be disturbed."

Pastika warned that problem of electricity in Bali must be urgently overcome to avoid problems in the future.

"50,000 people are waiting for electricity connection in Bali, that doesn't include demands from the industrial, tourism and other sectors. So let's not always connect the problem of electrical power with the purity of the Island of Bali and its temples those things will certainly always be protected," Pastika concluded.