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Reclamation to continue, says acting governor

Jakarta Post - November 1, 2016

Agnes Anya, Jakarta Jakarta's newly appointed acting governor, "Soni" Sumarsono, has confirmed he will continue the Jakarta Bay reclamation projects, including the controversial islet G.

Soni, who has temporarily replaced the inactive governor and incumbent gubernatorial candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, brushed off speculation suggesting he would review the projects when he took control of the administration.

Ahok, who had to take a leave of absence during the campaign period from Oct. 28, 2016, to Feb. 11, 2017, had strongly defended the projects, but many activists have challenged the policy citing environmental impacts and endangered fishermen.

"Regarding reclamation, our spirit is to continue [the project]. It is impossible to cancel it because the project is ongoing," Soni said during his first weekly meeting with the city's officials on Monday.

Soni, however, said some bylaws related to the reclamation projects, including those concerning the project's environmental impact analysis (Amdal), would be reviewed. This is related to the instruction of the Environment and Forestry Ministry to untangle the environmental problems in the projects, which must be done by Dec. 24.

In January next year, he added, the administration and City Council would resume deliberating bylaws related to the reclamation zoning and spatial planning, deliberations that are currently on pause.

Earlier this year, City Council said it would not continue deliberating the draft bylaws following the arrest of councilor Sanusi of the Gerindra Party by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

He was arrested while allegedly receiving bribes from the developer of islet G, one of 17 islets in the reclamation project.

The bribes were allegedly intended to persuade councilors to include a provision in the bylaws to allow the developers to pay only 5 percent of a contribution fee, instead of the 15 percent previously required by Ahok.

Amid the dispute, the central government, through the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the Environment and Forestry Ministry, stepped in to order the project suspended.

In September, however, the temporary coordinating maritime affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan said that the project could resume as all legal and environmental hurdles had been "cleared".

In October, Ahok requested City Council resume the bylaw deliberation as "there is no further problem" in the project with reclamation developers agreeing to comply with the 15 percent contribution.

Soni said the city administration would likely retain provisions previously drafted during Ahok's leadership in the next deliberation.

"Our main mission obviously is that we will not cut policies already set by Pak Ahok. Existing drafts will be retained with additional provisions based on our environmental examination," Soni added. "We will not go back to square one."

Soni's decision, however, triggered protests from activists, including the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen's Association (KNTI). The association said the bills must not continue as they are "flawed and not ecosystem-friendly".

"[Re-deliberating the bylaws] means repeating the lies of the city administration [as stated in the bills]," said Marthin Hadiwinata, KNTI chairman.

The Jakarta State Administrative High Court (PTTUN) recently ruled in favor of Ahok and overturned a decision by a lower court that ordered the Jakarta administration to halt the construction of islet G.

The petitioners, who also include KNTI activists, have said they would turn to the Jakarta Police and ask the force to charge Ahok and the developers for "damaging the environment".

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/11/01/reclamation-continue-says-acting-governor.html.

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