Respect Locals’ Wishes over Canggu Lagoon, Says Governor

DENPASAR ~ Bali’s Governor Dewa Beratha instructed the Badung government to remind a developer intent on constructing luxury accommodation on a controversial lagoon in Canggu to bear in mind local concern that the area is a sacred site and to work around it if the controversial project is green-lighted.

Yeh Poh Lagoon in Canggu, North Kuta, has been the scene of frequent demonstrations this year as residents attempted to thwart plans by developer PT Bali Unicorn Corporation to fill in the lagoon and build a villa complex.

Locals say the lagoon is not only a holy site used in religious ceremonies but is also environmentally significant because it acts as a run-off for three streams in the area and if filled in would cause major flooding in the rural area.

The protests had resulted in a suspension of work already underway at the site, but late last month officials began measuring the area of the proposed development to get a clearer picture of the space it would occupy if it went ahead.

“I want the regent of Badung to tell the developer that they have to respect the local people’s wishes, and that the sacred area at the lagoon must be protected if the development is to be built,” the governor told reporters following a meeting on Monday with Badung Regent A. A. Gede Agung.

Meanwhile, talks between the developer – which built the beachfront Discovery Shopping Mall in Kuta – and residents in the area are proceeding; however locals told The Bali Times they would continue to reject the project, on religious and environmental grounds.

According to government data, BT Bali Unicorn Corporation owns 46,120 square meters of land at the lagoon, comprising 20,870 square meters of water and 25,250 square meters of land.

Regent Agung said residents were insistent that if the development went ahead, they would demand on a 40-percent reduction of the area claimed by the developer.

“Our responsibility is towards (Hindu beliefs) and supporting the villagers,” he said.

The chief lawyer for the developer, Boris Pangaribuan, told The Bali Times on Thursday that he was awaiting a meeting involving officials from the Badung government and local residents, but as yet a date had not been set.

“We’re waiting the results of this meeting before deciding whether we can go ahead with the development,” he said.

Initially the company had planned a 15-bungalow complex on the site but the proposal was immediately rejected by the locals, who later agreed to a hotel being built as it would absorb more local workers, said Pangaribuan.

Under local laws, developments cannot proceed without agreement from both the authorities and people living in the immediate vicinity.

“Ninety percent of residents in the three banjars (communities) of Batubelig, Berawa and Tegal Gundul agreed with the hotel proposal, on the condition that we protect the sacred area at the lagoon,” claimed Pangaribuan.

“So we’re waiting to find out which areas can be built on and which areas have to be protected, following the government’s measuring of the area,” he said.

“If the people want us to build a hotel, then we’ll build a hotel.”

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