Walhi Files Lawsuit Against Bali Governor Over Mangrove Forest
Made Arya Kencana | January 02, 2013
An international environmental watchdog is taking Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika to court for issuing a permit that endorses the building of tourism facilities in the Ngurah Rai mangrove forest.
The lawsuit was registered at the Denpasar state administrative court by the chairman of the Bali branch of Friends of the Earth (Walhi), Wayan Gendo Suardana, and a team of 10 senior lawyers grouped under the Advocation Team for the Protection of the Bali Mangrove on Wednesday.
"We deem that the governor of Bali has violated several regulations pertaining to the environment," Gendo said, stating that Pastika has not shown the good will of revoking the permits he had issued to Tirta Rahma Bahari to develop a 102.2 hectare Ngurah Rai airport for tourism.
Gendo claimed that the governor has violated the 2009 Environmental Protection and Management Law, the 1990 Law on Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems and the principles of good governance.
Pastika, he noted, has also breached his own moratorium on tourism facilities in southern Bali.
"Walhi has already sent two letters to the governor over the case, but they have remained unheeded," Gendo added.
The chairman said that the mangrove forest of Nugrah Rai serves as a last defense against ocean abrasion, tsunamis and saltwater intrusion, while also acting as an invaluable absorber of carbon dioxide. Additionally, the trees provide an ecosystem for a number of native species.
The Bali regional zoning regulation of 2009 stipulates that forest vegetation needs to cover a minimum of 30 percent of the surface of Bali. Currently, just 23 percent of the island is forest.
"Under [such] conditions, the Bali governor has to expand the forest coverage and not give out licenses for investors to make use of mangrove forests, especially with such a wide surface," Gendo said.
The license issued by Pastika allows Tirta Rahmat Bahari to build 75 inns, eight restaurants, two spas, five cafes, five stalls, two offices, one swimming pool and a multipurpose building.
Pastika said he welcomed the lawsuit.
"I am happy with the lawsuit. It is better than activists merely shouting over the roof in an inelegant and even primitive manner. It is much [better] to take the case to the state administrative court," he said.
Pastika added that if he was found guilty by the court, he would revoke the license he had issued.
"It is not a matter of pride. We are committed to safeguard the nature in Bali, and Balinese [people] are under the obligation of defending this," he said.
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