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Bali Tolak Reklamasi: One Land, Two Points of View

Bali Tolak Reklamasi: One Land, Two Points of View

Bali; still completely spoiled by the world’s attention, referred to as the Island of Gods, the Island of thousands or -probably more precisely- millions of temples, a gem associated with that urban myth of  granting your secret wish of a year-round feel of holiday. Imagine day in and out among palm trees, charming rice terraces and white sand beaches while enjoying fresh coconut water, tropical fruits, exotic dishes and all the other pretty little details that scream out magical, heaven or paradise.

The fact is,some things and places around here are pretty magical indeed. The nature, the rich and colorful culture; it’s simply wonderful. However some other things aren’t as beautiful and dreamy, one of the most fundamental ones being the overdevelopment and serious environmental issues faced by the island.

One of the most recent and still ongoing environmental issues on the island is the reclamation plan in the area of Benoa Bay. Somehow, the government, both provincial and central, think that it is a brilliant idea to built a theme park, racing circuit, golf course, some more resorts and all kinds of high-end luxurious facilities, just as if we don’t have enough yet. The government didn’t forget to make good use out of the classic excuse of “providing jobs and economic growth” for the locals. It’s obvious that it doesn’t have that much to do with any locals.

This is just another high end resort with all kinds of services ready to pamper tourists; built on a floating piece of heaven (I can see the ad saying that). The studies and analysis that the reclamation can potentially ruin the ecosystem and endanger Bali as an entire island have been ignored and denied by those in power.

In the last moments in office, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decided to revise the Presidential Regulation number 45/ 2011 which protected the land around TanjungBenoa, including Teluk Benoa, by removing Teluk Benoa from the list of marine conservation areas. The Presidential Regulation Number 51/2014 effectively allows the reclamation of 700 hectares of land in Teluk Benoa.

The battle between the voice of the people and the government regarding this reclamation plan of Pudut Island has been going on until now. While local NGOs, artists, students and local communities from all over the island have not given up on their fight and their mission to protect their land and home from further damage caused by the overdevelopment and unsustainable plans, the government is still standing their ground working towards executing this project with PT TirtaWisata Bali Internasional (TWBI), the private investor they have chosen to collaborate with.

Balinese people live based on the ancient philosophy of Tri Hita Karana which roughly translates into  “three causes of well-being” or “three causes of prosperity” which consists of the harmony among human beings, the harmony between men and their Creator, and the harmony between men and their nature or environment.

Based on this believe and philosophy of life, it is only understandable that it didn’t take that much time and effort for the activists to spread the awareness to local communities all around the island. As we drive by the main roads of the island we’ll see banners and signboards stating protests towards the reclamation plans, each of them signed with the name of the village, district or region represented.

Through their website ForBali.org, Forum Rakyat Bali TolakReklamasi, which is an alliance of various components of society brought together by their concern about the reclamation plan, has also reported that these banners and sign boards have been constantly destroyed which were taken as a gesture that opposing groups of people are trying to silence them from stating their opinion. Forbali.org has stated that these attempts would not make them stop from spreading the awareness and fighting for Mother Nature.

Benoa Bay is stunning as it is today. Just a few steps away from the water sport centers, hip and classy hotels and restaurants lined up on the main street leading to this spot, the beach across Pulau Pudut really does have the traditional fishermen-village feel that many would not trade for a view of whatever giant development designed for the area.

As the proverb goes, we don’t own the planet, we merely borrow it from the next generations.
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