Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli announced on April 18 the governments decision to impose moratorium on Jakarta Bay reclamation till the pros and cons of the multi-billion reclamation deal are studied.
"We request that the construction work be suspended until all requirements and legal regulations are fully met," Minister Rizal Ramli, who was accompanied by Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja (Ahok), told the press.
A special joint committee is to be formed to look into the matter, Minister Rizal Ramli said.
The committee will comprise senior officials from related ministries.
They will include two director generals and two directors of the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Forestry, two director generals and two directors of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, two director generals of the Home Affairs Ministry, two directors of the Maritime Affairs Coordinating Ministry, and a representative of the cabinet secretary.
The Jakarta administration will send its deputy governor, development assistant, regional secretary, marine agency and the local governments team.
The joint committee will also be handling the cases of overlapping regulations connected with the project, according to Minister Rizal Ramli.
The team is expected to make public the results of its work next month or within two months.
Minister Siti Nurbaya said among the problems to be solved are those related to an environmental impact analysis which needs to be completed.
She recommended that all the reclamation projects be discontinued pending coordination between the government and local administrations, including those of Tangerang in Banten and Bekasi in West Java.
Nine developers, including state-owned companies and major private real estate companies, have received permits to build a total of 17 islands which will cost an estimated Rp 150 trillion ($11.4 billion) in investment on Jakarta Bay.
The Jakarta Bay reclamation project has become controversial after a bribery case concerning the mega project came to light. Demonstrations against the project were staged by fishermen and the urban poor affected by it.
Calls to halt the reclamation project have been voiced by various parties, including Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, several legislators and NGO activists.
Earlier, Maritime Affairs and Fishery Minister Susi Pudjiastuti called on the Jakarta administration to halt the Jakarta Bay reclamation project until developers meet all necessary norms.
The reclamation was being carried out without any recommendation or observing coastal area zoning regional regulations, the minister told the press recently.
A reclamation project needs recommendation from the Maritime Affairs and Fishery Ministry.
The ministrys director general for maritime spatial management issued a letter number B 204/PRL/IV/2016 on April 15, 2016, ordering that the reclamation project be temporary stopped.
The letter was sent to the Jakarta provincial secretary and copied to the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the Minister of the Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Jakarta Governor.
In the meantime, leading economist and former environment minister Emil Salim said reclamation of the northern coast of Java could transform the area not only into an economic growth center, but also into a maritime, fishery and shipbuilding industrial center.
However, he warned that reclamation of the Jakarta Bay must not neglect the environmental impact aspect.
Reclamation should be through a natural process through sedimentation of mud brought by rivers that empty into the Jakarta Bay, he said.
It is a wrong way of reclamation by digging coral reefs around the One Thousand Islands to create new man-made islands, he said, referring to reclamation by giant companies PT Agung Podomoro and Agung Sedayu Group in the Jakarta Bay.
The destruction of the corals will affect the ecosystem, change the sea currents, damage the environment, and even cause some of the One Thousand Islands to disappear, he said.
While lauding the moratorium, Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), the countrys leading environment NGO, however, criticized that the move may not have any significant impact and termed it only a political moratorium because it lacked a legal basis for imposing sanctions against companies found violating the moratorium.
"If there are no sanctions against the perpetrators, this will only be sweet nothings to everyones ears," Head of the Walhi Jakarta Chapter Moestaqiem Dahlan was quoted as saying by Tempo on April 23.
Dahlan claimed that the reclamation process used stolen materials including sand among other things from the Banten Province.
At the end, the project will not only harm the environment of the Jakarta Bay and surrounding areas but also destroy the ecology of Banten.
The reclamation project has affected some three thousand fishermen, and resulted in eviction of 3,579 families during the 2000-2011 period.(*)

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2016