Environmental impact study of new Indonesian capital to be ready by November, says minister

Environmental impact study of new Indonesian capital to be ready by November, says minister

Indonesia's new capital East Kalimantan
This aerial picture taken on Jul 31, 2019 by news outlet Tribun Kaltim shows a view of the area around Samboja, Kutai Kartanegara, one of two locations proposed by the government for Indonesia's new capital. (Photo: AFP / TRIBUN KALTIM / Fachmi RACHMAN)

JAKARTA: An environmental study of Indonesia’s new capital in East Kalimantan province will be completed by November, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Thursday (Aug 29), amid concerns raised by green groups over the relocation.

“It won’t take long. It will be two months at the latest, most likely in November,” she said, according to Antara news agency.

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that the capital would be moved from Jakarta in the crowded main island of Java to North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara districts in East Kalimantan.

Under the plan, government workers would be relocated to the new capital while the centre of business would remain in Jakarta. The government said the new capital would be a smart and green city.

Mdm Siti Nurbaya said on Wednesday that simultaneous restoration of the environment in these two districts would be part of the relocation.

Her ministry was preparing a reference framework and strategic actions for Mr Widodo, the Presidential Secretariat Office and the National Development Planning Agency, she said.

READ: New Indonesian capital offers opportunities for development, but environmental pitfalls abound

Despite the government’s promises, environmentalist have remained sceptical.

Greenpeace Indonesia director Leonard Simanjuntak said developing a new city without prioritising environmental protection would risk creating the same problems plaguing Jakarta.

“Jakarta’s air is polluted not only by a poorly planned transportation sector, but also from the many coal-fired power plants around Jakarta.

“If Indonesia’s new capital also relies on coal power as Jakarta, then don’t expect the move to a new capital to bring a breath of fresh air,” he said in a statement.

Greenpeace also noted that the proposed area is prone to forest fires. In Kutai Kartanegara district, there were 3,487 hotspots in the 2015 fire crisis, it added.

READ: Indonesia pledges US$40 billion to modernise Jakarta ahead of new capital: Minister

JAKARTA TO TURN GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS INTO PARKS

Separately, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said some of the government buildings vacated following the relocation could be transformed into green open spaces and preserved as heritage sites, Jakarta Globe reported.

“Former office buildings could become strategically located parks. It would be great, but some of them could be repurposed as office buildings,” he said on Wednesday.

The State Palace, for instance, could be maintained as a historic site, he added.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the business district in the capital Jakarta
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the business district in the capital Jakarta, Indonesia, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/File Photo

Mr Baswedan said with the looming capital relocation, Jakarta would still have to continue to develop its economy, tourism and business. 

“(This is so) especially when Jakarta is going to be the global business gateway to Indonesia and its financial centre,” he said.

Source: CNA/tx(aw)

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