Protests Mount Over Dewa Ruci Removal Plan


A row has broken out over what to do with the Dewa Ruci statue that the provincial government says must be moved to make way for the flyover to be built at the Sunset Road-Bypass intersection in Kuta.

Provincial legislators, environmentalists and a number of community groups said this week they did not want the statue moved and instead would like to see the new flyover built on a new alignment that would retain the statue in its present location.

But the government says that to keep the project cost to a minimum it must move the statue – which portrays a scene from the Hindu Mahabharata legend but is not itself sacred – so that the proposed flyover’s alignment avoids an unnecessary 20-metre shift and commercial property in the area will not need to be resumed at up to Rp500 million (US$55,940) per are (100sq m).

It says the preferred alignment is the best option. Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has proposed moving the Dewa Ruci statue either to the grassed area on the Kuta side of the highway, adjacent to the big computerised information screen already there, or to a new park area to the north, which could be landscaped as a public attraction.

The project budget has no funds for removal of Dewa Ruci to a new site.

The government, facing the prospect of protests, now says it will provide an opportunity for the community to assess whether the Dewa Ruci statue should be moved, given the cost involved.

It is also braced for public anger when construction begins because of the additional traffic congestion this will cause. Part of Sunset Road will be closed for a time so underground services can be relocated.

The flyover and associated works at the airport turnoff at Tuban are part of the provincial government’s masterplan to ease traffic congestion in south Bali. Governor Pastika wants the work completed before the ASEAN summit meeting here in 2013.

Major works, including construction of the Rp300 billion ($33.5 million) flyover, are scheduled to commence in November. The project is being funded by the national and provincial governments and Badung regency.

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