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Heritage on Sale

Concern Grows Over Commercial Subdivision of UNESCO Heritage Areas Surrounding Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

(10/6/2012) A special committee of legislators from the Tabanan House of Representatives (DPRD-Tabanan) reviewing the provincial zoning law (RTRW) recently surveyed the Jatiluwih rice terraces at Penebel, Tabanan – elevated to a World Heritage Status by UNESCO.

As reported by Radar Bali, the surprise visit to the area by the regency’s zoning team on October 2, 2012, encountered numerous signs offering plots of agricultural lands for sale. In the community of Gunung Sari that forms a part of the Jatiluwih Heritage Area, road side signs in English offer“Land for Sale.” Sixteen two-are plots of land were on sale at a price of Rp. 65 million (US$6.850) per are.

An are of land is 100 square meters in size.

A member of the legislative zoning team, Ida Bagus Kade Adnyana Suryawan, told the press: “I see that there are plots of land for sales. If such sales are permitted, there will be more parcels of land offered for sale. What’s clear this is not in line with the government’s plan to preserve and keep green Jatiluwih.

In the midst of efforts by both regency and provincial authorities in Bali to control the use of land via zoning regulations, Suryawan added: “Jatiluwih natural setting is an asset, if it is subdivided into plots of land for sales, where are the regulations? This is so far from what we envisioned?," said the lawmaker from the village of Wanasari in Tabanan.

Suryawan said that if these lands are sold as plots of land, particularly those offering panoramic views, these heritage lands will eventually change function becoming villas or buildings for other commercial purposes.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Suryawan said that before zoning laws are formalized a memorandum of understanding with local villages is needed addressing the subject of land sales.

Another member of the delegation from the DPRD-Tabanan, Edy Wirawan, also expressed his disappointment with the ongoing subdivision of agricultural lands surrounding the Jatiluwih rice terraces. “If these plots of land are used for local structures, such as Balinese bale, then it’s alright.” His view is that local-style buildings will add to the natural attraction of the area.

A local community leader defended the sale of roadside lands in Jatiluwih, saying the lands are intended for the construction of homes. He told legislators that while the sale of these lands is not forbidden, local authorities are urging that the lands be kept in an agricultural use and not developed with structures and buildings.

Meanwhile, village officials are lobbying the legislators to reduce the size of current green zones in which no construction is allowed. Under the current regulations, the “no-build green zone” is measured 1 kilometer from the boundaries of rice fields. Village officials, however, want the tract of land surrounding rice fields designated “green zones” reduced to just 300 meters to permit the people of Jatiluwih to commercially develop their lands.