Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan disclosed that there was no reason not to continue the reclamation project in the northern coast of Jakarta.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government has finally decided to resume the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project, which was suspended in the middle of this year.

Despite being dubbed by the Jakarta government as the best solution to Jakarta Bays water pollution problem, the controversial reclamation project of 17 small artificial islands off the coastal area of the Indonesian capital was strongly opposed by the citys residents for a host of different reasons.

Consequently, the government in April stopped short of bowing to growing public demand to cancel the mega project when it was dogged by bureaucratic wrangling, a bribery probe by the nations anti-corruption agency and opposition from environmentalists.

However, Co-ordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan disclosed here on Tuesday night that there was no reason not to continue the reclamation project in the northern coast of Jakarta.

After a meeting on the reclamation project at the Energy and Mineral Resources building, the minister stated that the government has come to the tentative conclusion that there was no reason not to go ahead with the project.

Panjaitan noted that all relevant aspects of reclamation have been heard from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, state electricity company PT. PLN, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), the Provincial Government of Jakarta, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Transportation.

President Joko Widodos (Jokowi) order that some 12 thousand fisherman should be a priority is a common concern, according to him.

"There is no problem with State Administrative Court lawsuit because it does not have legal force," the co-ordinating minister for maritime affairs affirmed.

Earlier, Pandjaitan had stated that the problem related to the G Island reclamation had been solved, including the project's location, which is only 500 meters from the Muara Karang Steam Power Plant.

Therefore, the government has decided to go ahead with the G Island reclamation project in the Jakarta Bay in North Jakarta coastal area.

Panjaitan noted that based on the results of evaluation and discussions he held over the past month, it was concluded that the project neither posed any legal problem, nor did it have any environmental impact.

"We studied all possibilities of an impact in legal as well as environmental terms. The PLN (state utility company) also does not have any problem with it," he added.

The minister assured that as acting Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, he would be ready to make any adjustments, if needed, for the project.

He reiterated that the reclamation project would be carried out using technological engineering solutions approved by the PLN and the Agency of Technology Assessment and Application (BPPT).

"The PLN has spoken up and so has the BPPT. I have gathered all experts (to discuss it). So, let us not politicize it. I have asked them all to speak professionally and we have made an assessment and come to a conclusion that continuing with it is the best (solution)," he underlined.

According to him, the decision to continue the reclamation pr0oject was also in view of the governments investment policy.

The government, he clarified, will be consistent in implementing Presidential Decree Number 52, 1995, which is the basis for the reclamation project.

The decree made it clear that the reclamation authority and responsibility was in the hands of the Jakarta governor.

The decision issued by President Soeharto on July 13, 1995 had triggered a debate due to the issuance of Presidential Decree Number 54, 2008 on Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Puncak and Cianjur spatial management. Many considered it as a move aimed at nullifying the regulation on reclamation.

"Although the decree was issued during the Soeharto era, we must be consistent with it. Indeed, adjustments have been made including on account of environment, but it was found that all aspects were met and it could be implemented," he noted.

In the middle of this year, the then coordinating minister for maritime affairs Rizal Ramli had ordered the cancellation of the project on account of serious violations that threatened the environment, sea lane and other vital projects.

The island was considered as hindering the lane for fishermen to call at Muara Angke.

Rizal Ramli said at the time that based on the analysis of a joint committee, Island G reclamation project was being carried out carelessly in technical terms and could have endangered the environment and the biota life in the area.

In the meantime, Bambang Haryo Soekartono of Commission V of the House of Representatives remarked here recently that the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project should be designed as part of the grand design of Indonesia and a worlds maritime axis.

"It should be developed to serve as a place for worlds commercial ships to cast anchor in Indonesian seaports," he said, addiing that the Jakarta city administration should initiate studies on the possibility of the reclamation project to help restore the countrys position as the worlds maritime axis.

Ships from East Asia, Europe and America cruise past Indonesian waters through the Malacca Strait, and the project should be made to attract at least 90 percent of the ships to cast anchor in Indonesian ports.

"Industrial estate should be developed on the man-made islands integrated with port to transform Jakarta into a maritime trading city," he said.

The reclamation project, which is to build 17 man-made islands was initiated by the city administration but construction is handled by private companies.

Governor Basuki Tjahaya Purnama (Ahok) said the land reclamation project would help Jakarta solve its land problems.

Ahok said Jakarta is sinking at an alarming rate every year and the subsidence is worse with rising sea level.(*)

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2016