Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has repeated that no geothermal power plant can be built at Bedugul — where Lake Beratan hosts a lucrative parasailing tourist attraction among other environmentally disturbing non-traditional uses of the area — because religious beliefs make it impossible.
“We remain committed to maintain the earlier refusal,” he told reporters. Former governor Made Beratha refused in 2006 to consider the project, as one means of Bali acquiring its own source of electricity.
Pastika’s solution is the so-called “Bali Crossing” involving high-voltage cables crossing the Bali Strait from Java on super-high pylons and then carrying power to the south of the island on a 45-metre high purpose-built line from Gilimanuk to the Denpasar area.
This in turn has raised environmental concerns over the fragile state of the forest in north-west Bali and the presence, among other dwindling wildlife, of the highly endangered Bali starling, and also concerns that the electricity line would impact on the sanctity of temples in its path.
Most of these concerns have been worked through in a series of talks.
Pastika said there was no similarity between the two projects. The Bali Crossing agreement related to high-voltage power lines while a geothermal project at Bedugul would involve drilling into the geological fabric of the island, impacting on its natural and religious environment.
His stand won support from Bali legislator Wayan Sudirta, who repeated that Balinese Hindus regard Bedugul as the “head” of Bali.
He said that when he made representations to the then energy and natural resources minister in 2006, the minister had been unable to respond to a question about how he would feel if someone took hold of his head and hair.
“I told him that this problem involved the feelings of the faithful,” Sudirta said.
And he warned that if the geothermal project was somehow revitalised it would be deeply wounding to Balinese people.