The ongoing saga between the city administration and State Minister of the Environment Nabiel Makarim is just another example of a dispute between central and regional administrations over who gets the last word in implementing regional autonomy.””It’s the public who has the final say,”” said Ryaas Rasyid, the father of the concept of regional autonomy, during his tenure as the minister of regional autonomy under Abdurrahman Wahid’s administration.””This kind of dispute should not be resolved among the political elite only, especially because it is the residents who will bear the impact of any policies that are implemented,”” he said in a recent interview with The Jakarta Post.
Law No. 22/1999 on regional autonomy, which took effect in 2000, empowers a regional administration to manage its resources without having to seek the approval of the central government.
However, Ryaas said, the same law also requires the central government to give suggestions concerning particular issues, including environmental affairs.
Nabiel’s decree, which was issued on Feb. 19, consists of the results of an assessment made by the Central Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) Commission on the city’s plan to reclaim 2,700 hectares of the northern coast of Jakarta.
The decree was made to reject an earlier analysis submitted by the city administration-sanctioned Water Front City Management (PB Pantura). This analysis had given the administration the green light to move ahead with the megaproject.
The project is for the construction of a luxury housing complex, hotels, an industrial zone, a port, shopping malls, offices and recreational sites. It is expected to be completed in 30 years.
Nabiel’s office assessed that the reclamation would cause a number of environmental and social problems, not only for the area but the entire city as well.
Ryaas suggested holding a public discussion to assess the plan and have residents, experts, non-governmental organizations concerned with the environment and the social impact, city officials and representatives from Nabiel’s office take part in it.
“”During the discussion, someone might come up with a technical way out to settle the dispute, which could ease fears over environmental damage and the resulting social problems, while the city administration could give an update on its estimate of the project’s cost,”” he said.
Ryaas’ suggestion was shared by Jan Sopaheluwakan, an expert of coastal studies at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
Sopaheluwakan said any technical solution adopted to approve the project would only raise new social and economic problems for both the coastal area residents and people living near the waterways or in the reservoir area.
“”The construction of a waterway diversion, canals or pumps to accelerate the water in reaching the sea means having to relocate people. The reservoir area, which has been converted into housing complexes or business zones, would have to be returned to its original function,”” he told the Post.
“”I wonder why the city administration did not consult the experts and all the stakeholders on this,”” he added.
Governor Sutiyoso had stated that he would organize a public debate on the reclamation project of the north Jakarta coastal area. But when the event was held last month, it turned out that the public debate was a discussion featuring speakers from the city administration and the offices of the State Minister of the Environment, while many experts and critics of the project were not invited
(credit : The Jakarta Post)