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The Battle for Water in Bali

Tensions Rise in Bali's North Over Traditional Water Rights.

(1/20/2010) Hundreds of disgruntled residents of Bali's north shore community of Tejakula have marched on the village of Kutuh in Kintamani, claiming a water retention system is causing disruption downstream.

BeritaBali.com reports that the coastal protesters descended on their hillside neighbors in a convoy of some 30 vehicles on Wednesday, January 13, 2009, to rally against a water retention systems built by the provincial public works department.

Alert to the possibility of conflict, police were deployed to the village of Kutuh. The spokesman for the Buleleng Police Post, Made Sudirsa explained: "The police were only taking anticipatory steps. The movement of the people of Tejakula could not be prevented, although police remained on guard to prevent any conflict." Two companies of mobile brigade officers (Brimob) and one company of anti-riot police (Dalmas) were sent to the Kintamani area to prevent any outbreaks of public disorder.

Behind the tension, anger from the beach side community of Tejakula that much needed fresh water supplies emanating from the village of Sukawana in Bangli was being diverted away by the hillside village.

At 5:30 am the convoy was met by the substantial police presence that was unable to prevent the men from demolishing a 2 meter deep reservoir measuring 4 x 6 meters.

After destroying the reservoir the group reversed direction, heading back to Tejakula. Along the way the convoy disembarked their vehicles at Madenan to begin a long march to the Pura Puseh of Tejakula where fellow villagers welcomed them back as a gamelan orchestra played.

During the march, women and children reportedly welcomed the returning "warriors" with drinks of water and rambutan fruit.