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'Arts parade' staged to oppose reclamation plan for Bali's Benoa Bay

Publication Date : 28-06-2014


Around 100 people staged a rally on Friday to reject a plan to reclaim Benoa Bay in Bali, Indonesia.

Staging what was dubbed as "arts parade" were environmentalists, musicians, artists, students and local residents.

The arts parade featured a number of art performances, including barong and rangda traditional dances; poetry reading; percussion; theatrical dramas and acoustic music.

The rally, held by the Forum of Balinese Against Reclamation (ForBALI), began in the parking area east of Puputan Margarana field before moving to the Bajra Sandhi monument. In front of the monument, protestors shouted rejections of the Benoa Bay plan. The rally then continued to the governor’s office while protestors chanted “no reclamation” accompanied by drums.

“We are here, demanding the cancellation of Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014. We demand the authority to invalidate the plan to reclaim Benoa Bay,” said forum spokesperson, Komang Arya Ganaris.

Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014 is a revision of Presidential Regulation No. 45/2011 on the spatial planning of the Sarbagita (Denpasar-Badung-Gianyar-Tabanan) urban areas.

The revised regulation, which was just signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in May, has sparked protest. The regulation was likely issued to facilitate the realisation of the reclamation project, which had been sidelined since last year.

The new regulation eliminated articles that declared Benoa Bay a conservation area, especially Article 55 from the previous regulation. It also decreased the scope of conservation by adding the phrase “part of” in reference to the area of Serangan and Pudut Island, implying that certain parts of those areas could still be converted.

In addition to excluding Benoa Bay from the conservation zone, the regulation also changed the coast of Benoa Bay into a buffer zone, as stipulated under Article 63 of the law.

The regulation also removed the article stating that the 1,375-hectare Taman Hutan Raya Ngurah Rai mangrove forest was a conservation area. It stated that activities to “revitalise” the area were allowed, including reclamation of a maximum of 700 hectares in Benoa Bay. Another article states that a minimum of 40 per cent of the reclaimed area should be allocated for green space.

The new regulation has surprised many as the plan to reclaim Benoa Bay had been abandoned after mounting public opposition to the plan last year.

In that resistance drive, environmentalists voiced fears that the planned reclamation could trigger a massive ecological disaster, while tourist industry players worried that the theme park planned on the site and new hotel construction would drive local hotels into bankruptcy.

Religious leaders aired concerns about how the massive tourism enclave would lure the island’s youth away from their cultural roots.

Responding to the public opposition, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika revoked the gubernatorial letter No. 2138/02-C/HK/2012 that was signed on Dec. 26, 2012 last year.

The letter granted private investor PT Tirta Wahana Bali International (TWBI) permission to reclaim and develop Benoa Bay as an integrated tourist area. At that time, the gubernatorial letter contravened several higher regulations, including a presidential decree and a provincial bylaw on spatial planning.


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