Concerns Aired Over Northern Airport

SINGARAJA

The chairman of the anti-graft NGO Bali Corruption Watch (BCW) has warned that a planned new airport in the north of the island could result in local residents losing their traditional lands without getting adequate compensation.

Speaking after a meeting about the proposed airport development in Singaraja on Sunday, BCW head Putu Wirata Dwikora warned that major developments often caused hardships for the original inhabitants.

“We ask that the traditional inhabitants be able to maintain their lands, whatever it’s used for, including this airport in the north of Bali which is now being discussed,” he said.

The planned northern airport is intended to boost development in Bali’s neglected north, and to ease pressure in the congested south.  Several possible sites are being considered.

“Investors clearly want to do things cheaply and with the smallest expenditure from their funds, and they can only do that by using land under traditional ownership, or local-government lands,” Dwikora said.

He cited the example of the Bali Pecatu Graha development on the Bukit Peninsula.

“Look at the fate of the traditional inhabitants near Jimbaran in Badung regency whose land was used for a tourism development. Now they have difficulties even finding a place to live,” he said.

Dwikora said that the Badung example out to be a warning to residents in Buleleng.

“Seeing that case, traditional residents need to be more careful in freeing their land for the interests of investors,” he said.

Dwikora said that investors and authorities should pay close attention to the interests of traditional landholders, and if community-owned land was used for an airport ongoing financial contributions to the original inhabitants must be guaranteed.

As well as concerns over land ownership, other concerns were raised during the meeting about the environmental impact of any new development.

One of the other participants, Wayan Santiyasa, said a new airport in the western part of Buleleng would damage forests, reefs and coastline, now protected as part of the West Bali National Park.

“If the airport is built in the western part of Buleleng it will be very damaging for the marine and forest environments, which have been so well preserved up until now,” he said, adding that the eastern part of the regency would be a more suitable area for the airport.

Meanwhile, members of the Team for Advocacy and Community Empowerment delivered a recommendation to the Bali government that the airport be built at Tejakula in the eastern part of Buleleng, saying that its proximity to the borders of neighbouring Karangasem, Klungkung and Bangli regencies would allow easy access and would help to spread development.

“This team suggests that the airport be built on the Buleleng-Karangasem border so as many areas as possible can get the benefit and enjoyment,” said team member Nyoman Subanda during a meeting with Made Arjaya, head of the Bali regional assembly’s Commission I, on Monday.

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