Activist Legislator Seeks Development Halt

AMLAPURA

A paper just tabled in the Karangasem legislature lays bare the level of local government resistance to Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s bid to bring uniformity and integrity to Bali’s land zoning and development rules.

Although Bali has approved a new and comprehensive Provincial Zoning Plan (RTRWP), violations of the new rules are rife due to resistance by island officials to relinquish their personal power to grant exemptions or, at the very least, ensure the stated rules are selectively enforced.

Karangasem legislator I Nyoman Sadra, a well-known environmental activist who tabled the private report on zoning practices in the regency House of Representatives, pointed to the refusal of local government leaders to submit to the new rules. He said they preferred to work with the less specific status quo in which developers’ demands are more easily met.

Sadra cited many violations in Karangasem, where among other difficulties a non-conforming hotel at Bukit Mimba has been threatened with a stop order and a villa project at Bukit Guman in Bug-Bug.

He said that at the Bukit Mimba project the regency government had violated its own local zoning laws by allowing the project to be built in a protected zone.

Sadra said the recently approved provincial zoning law had made tourism development in Karangasem even more problematic because implementation of the new rules was being resisted by newly re-elected Regent Wayan Geredeg.

The issue was how existing commercial operations within 2.5km of sacred temple sites would be affected if the new zoning laws were enforced.

Implementation of the new rules would also require demolition of a large number of existing restaurants and hotels.

Some local administrators argue the 2.5km no-build zone in the new regulations around religious temples and the 100-metre beach set-back rule would leave Karangasem with little land for tourism investors.

Sadra said this week the solution was a complete halt to the building of hotels and restaurants in Karangasem while the actual number of hotels and the number of tourist guests served by them was surveyed.

If the survey showed demand is adequately served by the current supply of rooms, the local legislator thinks it’s better to prevent any new projects from being built.

Sadra said it was a mistake to assume that every new hotel in Karangasem automatically results in an increase in the regency’s tax revenues.

“If the attractiveness of the regency has been destroyed through environmental degradation, the tourists will have gone,” he said.

Gianyar’s regent is also at the forefront of the fight against the new laws, saying his regency needs to develop parts of the Badung Strait beachfront green zone to capitalise on investment opportunities.

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