SINGARAJA ~ Buleleng Regent Putu Bagiada faces intense opposition after announcing approval of a controversial villa development in heritage forest near Lake Buyan in Bali’s central volcanoes area.
The plan by private company PT Bali Nusa Abadi to build villas in a protected area of forest around Lake Tamblingan and Lake Buyan has been scrutinised by the environment department and non-government organisations and has been heavily criticised by Bali’s second top legislator, IGK Adiputra, who is vice-chairman of the provincial legislature.
However, Bagiadi said on Monday the plan had been approved by the Ministry of Forestry and would proceed.
“I made it clear that permission is entirely up to the ministry and that the ministry has cleared to project to go ahead,” he said.
“Local and provincial governments can only give a recommendation and cannot give a license to proceed,” he said. “The people want the project; it is within the law, and so the path is fixed.”
Approval meant the forest land would become a natural tourism park development in accordance with the investors’ plan to support tourism, social, educational and economic activities in the area, he said.
The regent announced the news to 13 representatives of Pancasari village, Sukasada, who went to his office to express support for the project, which they said would benefit public welfare in Buleleng and especially Pancasari village.
“We and the citizens fully support government programmes to take advantage of the nature park development,” said Pancasari spokesman Gusti Ngurah Agung Dharma Wirata.
Wirata expressed support for developer PT Bali Nusa Abadi, which would manage the land under development and invited the regent’s representatives to visit Pancasari village to see for themselves the attitudes of the people.
The regent said PT Bali Nusa Abadi management was committed to properly maintaining the forest area to be developed at Lake Buyan.
Earlier, Adiputra called for a halt to the project. “We are far from the desired 30 percent forest cover in the area,” he said. “It is only 23 percent. If it all becomes villa land, we will run out of forest.”