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(6/29/2013) As reported by Beritabali.com, Bali Friends of the Earth (WALHI-Bali) are depicting the visit to Bali by soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his participation in a tree-planting ceremony with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Bali’s southern People's Mangrove Forest (Taman Hutan Rakyat – Tahura) as little more the political posturing and "window dressing."
In making their harsh review, WALHI points to the fact that the location selected for the nationally televised planting by Cristiano Ronaldo and President Yudhoyono is in fact the same area they claim will soon be reclaimed for use a range of water recreation activities and a Formula-1 racing facility.
The chairman of WALHI-Bali, Wayan Gendo Suardana, describes Ronaldo as a victim of political image-building, saying the soccer star was probably not aware that the location used for the symbolic tree planting is slated for reclamation.
“I also pity Ronaldo, while he was praising SBY (the president) for extending the moratorium on deforestation, he was actually standing in an area that violates that Presidential order, all this standing next to the President. This is only imagery and has no basis in fact. The proof is that he would later travel on a toll road, feeling proud at the extended moratorium on deforestation was in effect while, in fact, passing over an area that violates that very same moratorium,” explained Gendo.
Gendo went on to emphasize that while Ronaldo’s intent was honorable in trying to create added awareness among young people to protect the mangrove, his presence in Bali was being used by investors to camouflage and window dress there environmentally destructive reclamation plans.
Meanwhile, Radar Bali reports that Bali’s new toll way already has put in place platforms for additional ramp access, precisely positioned to connect the new roadway with the controversial island proposed to be built on reclaimed lands in Benoa Bay.
PT Jasa Marga Bali Tol, the developers and operators of the toll road, insist the platforms extruding from the side of the toll way are not in place to be joined to any definite extension to the current road. The spokesman of PT Jasa Marga Bali Tol, Drajad Hari Suseno, claimed to have no knowledge of any plans for a reclaimed island, which he freely admits would destroy the aesthetic quality of the bay. Said Drajad; “If (the land) is reclaimed. It will no longer be beautiful. And, many members of the public will oppose such a reclamation.”
Drajad said the tapers or platforms were not connected with any specific plan to connect the toll way to new roads, but only an engineering feature to eficiently facilitate any possible future expansion of the road network.
Meanwhile, news is circulating in the local press that PT Tirta Wahana Bali International (PTTWBI) have filed a proposal to reclaim land in the mangrove area, creating an island not far from the new toll way. The area of the new island is also reportedly close to the taper or widened platforms on the new road that could, in the future, accommodate on and off ramps.
PTTWBI has commissioned an academic study of the project in cooperation with Bali's Udayana University. According to Radar Bali, the proposed development calls for a 100-hectare island on the western side of the toll for use as an Formula One Racing Track. On the eastern side of the toll road a series of small islands connected by bridges are on the planning boards for development as high end accommodation.
While governor Made Mangku Pastika initially claimed no knowledge of the proposed reclamation project, when pressed by reporters he eventually admitted that plans for such a program had been brought to his desk by the Provincial Planning Agency (Bappeda Bali).
Pastika told the press: “Actually there is (such a plan). But that (plan) has many components. We are currently making zoning regulations. That (the area for the proposed islands) is located in the ocean and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Sea and Fisheries. There are also mangrove forests in this area putting the matter under the supervision of the Minister of Forestry. If you want to build anything there, the Minister of Public Works must also be consulted. So, the oceans are not under our control, but that of the central government.”
The governor any plans for reclamation would need careful local study by the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali).
Meanwhile, The Bali Post reports that the regent of Badung, A.A. Gde Agung, insists he has no knowledge of the proposed reclamation project.
Radar Bali also cast a suspicious eye over the much publicized planting of trees by the President and Ronaldo on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The chief of the Agency for the Management of River Basins (BPDAS), Sasmitahhadi, said the area selected for the symbolic planting is unsuitable for tree plantings and the trees planted by the President and Ronadlo will most probably die. Mud from another area of the mangrove will have to be imported to the area of the tree planting in order for the trees to survive,
Radar Bali concluded that the media event involving the President and Ronaldo was, indeed, mere image building intended to prevent any local resistance to the planned reclamation project.
If the reclamation goes ahead, an estimated 22% of the current mangrove area designated for protection would be sacrificed to the new developments.
Environmentalists are vowing to protest and oppose by all means possible any plans to reclaim area now covered by the southern mangrove forest.
[Cristiano Ronaldo – Bali’s Ambassador to the World]