Tuesday, March 01, 2005

City reaches new depths as land use plan fails to sink in

Source: The Jakarta Post

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Environmentalists are telling the city administration to follow the city's land use plan in order to check land subsidence in the capital.

"Rampant violations of the land use plan only exacerbate subsidence in the capital. Many new buildings are being constructed in areas previously designated as green zones," Rino Subagyo of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law said on Monday.

Rino was commenting on warnings from the City Mining Agency that this city of 12 million people was sinking at an alarming rate.

According to the mining agency, from 1999 to 2005 land in North Jakarta sank by between two centimeters and eight centimeters per year, West Jakarta by 2.2 centimeters, East Jakarta by 1.3 centimeters to three centimeters, and South Jakarta by two centimeters.

Rino said the city administration violated the current City Master Plan by allowing the conversion of land along Jl. Melawai in South Jakarta from residential areas to business zones.

Other violations include the construction of a sports mall in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, the construction of several commercial buildings in the Bung Karno sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, and the development of the Pantai Indah Kapuk housing complex in North Jakarta, Rino said.

Environmentalist Ahmad Syafrudin said the administration should respect land use regulations contained in the city's master plan. He said the master plan should be the only reference for issuing building permits.

"The city can control the construction of buildings if the administration sticks to the master plan. Otherwise, building construction will grow out of control and worsen land subsidence," he told the Post.

He said the City Construction Supervision and Regulation Agency should pay attention to the basic building coefficient (KDB) of land in each area, in order to conserve underground water.

The KDB is the area of a plot of land where a building stands.

"As you know, the majority of rainwater goes directly into rivers and flows to the sea because the majority of Jakarta's land has been covered with buildings and concrete constructions. Meanwhile, water exploitation continues unabated," Ahmad said.

He said the city administration must ensure South Jakarta's KDB was only 20 percent, meaning only 20 percent of the land would be used for building construction.

He said keeping the KDB down in southern Jakarta was necessary because this was a crucial water conservation area for the city.

Ahmad also urged the administration to construct as many water reservoirs as possible, particularly in city-owned buildings, to help conserve underground water.

"We must funnel all of the tax revenue from water back into water conservation projects. The city must allocate more money for water conservation if needed," he said.

According to the City Mining Agency, annual tax revenue from underground water can reach Rp 52 billion. However, the city allocated only Rp 250 million for the construction of water reservoirs last year.