Activists urge BMKG to prohibit infrastructure development in disaster-prone southern Bali

A banana boat passes in front a crane dredging a part of Benoa Harbour in Denpasar on Bali island on August 2, 2013. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP)
A banana boat passes in front a crane dredging a part of Benoa Harbour in Denpasar on Bali island on August 2, 2013. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP)

The Balinese People’s Forum to Reject Reclamation (ForBALI) is urging Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to issue a strict prohibition on infrastructure development in southern Bali, highlighting the area as being prone to disasters. 

“[We hope] that BMKG will take a swift step and issue a prohibition on building infrastructure and property development, plans of which are currently in the works in a disaster prone area,” Suriadi Darmoko from ForBALI’s political division, told reporters yesterday.

Suriadi added that according to a 2017 study on national earthquakes, there is the possibility of a megathrust earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale, hitting south Bali. 

The Indonesian archipelago is no stranger to natural disasters, with many of the country’s islands – including Bali – straddling on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide. 

ForBALI hopes to ride on the momentum from a recent meeting between President Joko Widodo and BMKG, held back in July, in which the president suggested that no development should take place in disaster-prone areas. The statement was also conveyed on his Twitter account: 

“Indonesia is located on the disaster-prone ring of fire. So if one location is prone to earthquakes or floods, it must be explicitly conveyed: don’t build airports, dams, housing,” Jokowi tweeted.

Activists have raised concerns that many upcoming projects planned in Bali might lead to new environmental problems, also highlighting that many islanders are most at risk from such threats. 

Those plans include the expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport and the expansion of the Port of Benoa, which are included in a zoning plan for Bali known as RZWP3K, which would be adopted to a regional regulation once it is finalized. 

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