Benoa Bay plan receives mixed reaction

Ni Komang Erviani
Bali Daily/Denpasar

A number of prominent academics have expressed concerns about the planned development and reclamation of Benoa Bay in southern Bali saying that all parties must wait for the completion of the current comprehensive study into the feasibility of the projects.

I Gede Sudiartha, an expert on disaster mitigation, explained that reclamation of Benoa Bay was not a solution to protect Bali from a possible tsunami.
Sudiartha was referring to the University of Udayana’s feasibility study, which implied that reclamation of Benoa Bay would reduce the impact of tsunamis and coastal erosion.

The study, conducted under a memorandum of understanding between the university and PT Tirta Wahana Bali International, also suggested that the reclaimed land could be used as a strategic place for a tsunami-evacuation center.

Governor Made Mangku Pastika has used the feasibility study to issue a permit for PT Tirta Wahana Bali International to develop and to reclaim Benoa Bay making way for the development of massive tourism projects. Yesterday, the University of Udayana officially insisted that the institution had not yet completed the study and urged the government not to use the incomplete study as grounds to issue the permit.

Sudiartha has been working in disaster-prone regions across Indonesia for the last 25 years. He also acted as an advisor for the GIZ PROTECT building local capacity for tsunami preparedness.

“Three years ago, a tsunami-evacuation system was built in southern Bali including Tanjung Benoa [Benoa Bay]. A memorandum of understanding was also signed by local residents and tourist businesses operating in the area to establish an evacuation mechanism and evacuation places,” said Sudhiartha who is also chairman of the Bali Disaster Mitigation Forum.

The Benoa Bay residents and the tourist industry also agreed that people should be evacuated to multi-story buildings such as hotels and offices, added Sudhiartha who has installed tsunami early-warning systems in Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, Java and Sumatra.

Luh Kartini, an expert of soil science at the University of Udayana’s agricultural faculty, reminded all related parties that Teluk Benoa coastal areas were very vulnerable to liquefaction during earthquakes. The areas rest on non-solid soil structures as was also confirmed by 2010 research conducted by a team from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

The LIPI  study revealed that the coastal areas in southern Bali stretching from Sanur, Pedungan, Serangan to Benoa were composed of sand, silt and clay between 20 and 30 centimeters thick.

Kartini also pointed out that Teluk Benoa, or Benoa Bay, is categorized as a conservation area according to Presidential Regulation No. 45/2010 on the spatial plan of Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan areas, known as Sarbagita.

“Since Teluk Benoa is a conservation area, any development activity will be against the law. This means that the permit issued by Governor Pastika also goes against the existing legal basis,” she said.

I Gusti Bagus Wijaya Kusuma, chairman of the University of Udayana’s industry and energy research and study center, warned that in 2009 investors from the Netherlands and Indonesia had asked him to carry out a feasibility study to reclaim Tanjung Benoa.

“I knew that the study must be conducted to benefit the investors,” he said.

Wijaya said that if Bali wanted to be protected, the first thing it had to do was to protect the high-risk area of Kuta.

In the study conducted in the framework of the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System, Kuta was included as a pilot project as one of Indonesia’s most high-risk tsunami areas.

The study resulted in comprehensive risk assessments that were performed in Indonesia’s coastal areas especially in the coastal areas of Sumatra, Java and Bali on a detailed level in the pilot areas of Padang in West Sumatra, Cilacap in Central Java and Kuta in Bali.

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