Benoa Bay reclamation permit expires, but land remains unprotected

A press conference held by ForBali on Aug. 27, 2018 about the status of the reclamation of Benoa Bay. Photo: ForBali/Facebook
A press conference held by ForBali on Aug. 27, 2018 about the status of the reclamation of Benoa Bay. Photo: ForBali/Facebook

The location permit on the controversial Benoa Bay reclamation project has expired, but that doesn’t mean the 700-hectare area is automatically saved.

Saturday was the expiration date for the location permit (which had previously already been extended) for property developer Tirta Wahana Bali International (TWBI).

The plan for the project was that TWBI would reclaim 700 hectares of mangrove forest in Benoa Bay, creating a chain of Dubai-esque artificial islands complete with tourism facilities like hotels, restaurants, and even an F1 track.

The project was met with much protest, with critics decrying the mass development, saying it would disrupt an area declared “sacred” by the country’s governing Hindu authority, and to make matters worst, would be an ecological disaster. Not just for the mangrove forest, but anticipated flooding would put Benoa and much of South Bali under water.

This “victory” of TWBI’s permit running out was announced at a press conference on Monday by Wayan “Gendo” Suardana, leader of the Balinese People’s Forum to Reject Reclamation (ForBali), the organized movement that has been protesting the looming project since 2013.

It was up to TWBI to get an environmental impact analysis (AMDAL) declaring the project’s feasibility before the clock ran out on the location permit—which had been issued by the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

“The information we have received is that the location permit expires as of Aug. 26 at 12am,” Gendo said at the press conference, as quoted by Bali Post.

“The Minister has not issued a decree for environmental feasibility and an environmental permit. By default, the reclamation plan by TWBI in Benoa Bay has failed,” Gendo said.

But the victory is not a total one yet as long as the 700 hectares of Benoa Bay that had been designated for the project remains outside of protective zoning.

In 2014, then-Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) pulled the 700 hectares of land from protective zoning with presidential decree, Perpres No.51/2014.

“To the whole community, we hope that this victory does not quell our critical attitude because in the future, there is still Perpres No.51/2014. The president must cancel it if Benoa Bay is to become a conservation area,” Gendo said.

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