Balikpapan, East Kalimantan (ANTARA) - Environmental Affairs Minister Siti Nurbaya affirmed that the concept of the new capital city in East Kalimantan will encompass restoration of the environment at the Bukit Suharto Forest Park and adjoining areas.

The relocation of the capital city should neither be viewed as a matter of concern nor should it elicit skeptical reactions, as it would also prioritize environmental improvement, the minister noted in a statement here on Wednesday.

East Kalimantan Province has been facing environmental issues, including former mine pits.

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"Hence, the plan to build the capital city there can also serve as a momentum to solve the problems. Hence, it could be implemented positively," Nurbaya explained.

Nurbaya has made assurance that her ministry will safeguard unique ecosystems existing in East Kalimantan in a sustainable manner.

The new capital city development concept, which is smart and forest city, is a theory that concurrently focuses on environmental improvement, she pointed out.

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0n Aug 26, 2019, the central government had declared that parts of the districts of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara in East Kalimantan will be the location for the country’s new capital that is expected to be inaugurated in 2024.

The plan has triggered reactions from the public, in general, and environmental organizations, in particular, as Kalimantan is home to extensive forest areas.

Greenpeace Indonesia has voiced its concerns over the plan, as it will necessitate forest and land conversion to develop a capital city and will consequently impact the environment. Developing a new capital city without giving prior consideration to the environment will lead to environmental issues cropping up akin to what Jakarta is bearing witness to, Greenpeace Indonesia Director Leonard Simanjuntak explained in a statement on Tuesday.

"We can see that air pollution in Jakarta is caused by means of transportation and coal-fueled power plants surrounding Jakarta. If the new capital city will rely on coal, as a source of energy, like in Jakarta now, do not ever expect that the new capital city will be free of air pollution," he stated.

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Translator: Virna PS, Fardah
Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti
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