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Activists up the ante against reclamation

Jakarta Post - October 22, 2016

Corry Elyda, Jakarta In a last-ditch effort to halt the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project, fishermen and environmentalists said they would press charges against those involved in the project.

The statement came after the Jakarta State Administrative High Court (PTTUN) ruled on Thursday in favor of the city administration, overturning a lower court's ruling that had ordered the administration to halt the construction of islet G.

Marthin Hadiwinata of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Union (KNTI) said during a press conference on Friday that the fishermen and activists, grouped under the Coalition for Saving Jakarta Bay, would report those involved in the project, specifically in the construction of three islets C, D and G to the Jakarta Police.

Islet C and D belong to PT Kapuk Naga Indah (KNI), a subsidiary of developer Agung Sedayu Group, while islet G is constructed by PT Muara Wisesa Samudra (MWS), a subsidiary of Agung Podomoro Land (APLN).

The coalition has accused the developers, the authorities that issue the permits, environmental compliance inspectors and contractors of damaging the environment. "The project has ruined the environment and harmed the livelihood of fishermen," Marthin said.

The activists argued that the Environment and Forestry Ministry had evidence that the project harmed the environment, which was used as pretext for its decision to halt the project.

A study by the Research Center for Marine and Fisheries Socio-Economics estimates that at least four types of losses would occur because of the reclamation project.

The study shows that for every hectare of reclaimed seabed, fishermen would lose Rp 26.89 million (US$2,068) annually, which would total Rp 13.44 billion annually if the total reclamation area amounted to 500 hectares. Meanwhile, the cost of losing the ability to harvest green mussels would amount to about Rp 85 million per annum.

Furthermore, the value of every 1 ha of fish pond lost to reclamation would be about Rp 27.9 million per year, while the cost of relocation and regenerating mangrove ecosystems would be about Rp 28 million per month for at least 10 years, totaling Rp 3.36 billion.

"We can charge them under Article 86 of the Fishery Law," Marthin said. The article stipulates that anyone who intentionally conducts activities in a fishing area that causes pollution or damage to fisheries could face up to 10 years' imprisonment and Rp.2 billion (US$152,000) in fines.

Marthin said those involved in the project could be charged under Article 69 of the Spatial Planning Law. According to the article, those who do not comply with a spatial plan could face three years' imprisonment and Rp 500 million in fines.

Other than pressing for criminal charges, the fishermen and activists also plan to file a separate lawsuit against the city administration on allegations of damaging the environment and maladministration.

The latest administrative court ruling has cleared some of the legal hurdles for the city administration to go on with the reclamation project, which was backed by the central government.

The City Council has also decided to resume deliberations over a draft bylaw on zoning and spatial planning of coastal areas and small islets, the legal basis of the project.

The council suspended deliberations after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested a councillor and a businessman in connection to the draft bylaw's deliberations.

The reclamation project of 17 artificial islets in Jakarta's northern coast, initiated in 1995, has been stalled for a long time. Then governor Fauzi Bowo issued permits for islets C, D and E, while Ahok issued permits for islets G,F, I, K and H.

Jakarta Legal Bureau legal aid head Haratua Purba said filing a lawsuit was the right of every citizen. "It is their right, so we will wait for the case to proceed," he said, adding that his department would follow all procedures.

APLN corporate secretary Justini Omas said she did not want to comment on the lawsuit, saying that her company would comply with all decisions made by the government. "The point is that we will comply with all policies set for us," she said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/22/activists-up-the-ante-against-reclamation.html.

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