Posted by: taufiqulmujib | 16 February 2010

NGOs Seek to Scrap Law on Coastal Management

Pandaya   |  Tue, 02/16/2010 10:16 AM  |  National

The 2007 Coastal and Islet Management Law is yet to be functional, but an alliance of activists are already seeking to shoot it down.

An alliance of NGOs have filed for a judicial review with the Constitutional Court to have the law revised or even scrapped as they claim it will see the state surrendering its sovereignty to capitalists.

The group says the law gives business entities the right to manage a particular area and share the profits with the local government,  which will effectively rob indigenous po-pulations of their ancestral homes and livelihood.

“The law will only create legal certainty because in some ways the law is in conflict with the Constitution, which gives the right to control natural resources to the state to ensure the well being of the people,” said Taufiqul Mujib from the Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice.

The law the House of Representatives passed in 2007 is intended as an umbrella for the existing 20 or so lower regulations pertaining to the management of coastal and minor islands.

It also aims to help improve the livelihood of customary communities and islanders who have been living in the area for several generations.

Even though the law allows public participation in developing and managing the coast and islands, it requires bureaucratic procedures that only powerful capitalists can afford.

The concession holders are entrusted with a high degree of autonomy to manage and profit from the project. The activists agree that it is good that businesses are required to fulfill various obligations in relation to environmental protection, but argue that experience has shown that such contracts usually end up with bureaucrats bowing to the will of capitalists.

The government has given concessions to tourism businesspeople to develop and manage such places in Jakarta, Bali and a Tukangbesi Islands in Southeast Sulawesi.

Although the government is yet to make regulations and implement the law, activists warn that conflict between locals and businesspeople has already been brewing in many areas.

In Southeast Sulawesi, a simmering conflict has erupted between a pearl company and fishery communities who lost their fishing areas, which are now controlled by entrepreneurs.

Similar conflicts are also common along the coast between Surabaya and Banyuwangi in East Java, Taufiqul said.

In Togian Islands, Central Sulawesi, and Tukangbesi Islands, the economic welfare of fishermen has been on the decline after local administrations granted concessions to tourism operators, the NGOs noted.

In Tukangbesi, the indigenous popoulation has been barred from catching fish from coral reefs — something they have done all their life — after the tourism investor claimed the territory as theirs, said M. Riza Damanik, the secretary-general of Kiara (the People’s Coalition for Justice in Fishery).

“As compensation for the lost fishing area, the businessman set aside Rp 5 million a month for the locals and Rp 50 million for the local administration a year from its estimated Rp 5 billion in annual income,” Riza said.

In Ancol, a famed beach resort in North Jakarta, he said that no fisherman could even pass the area without putting up sails provided by the Ancol tourism management as a candid way of promoting the spot and the beach that is closed to the non-paying public.



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