Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati says he is going along with the suggestion that vast land development on the island has worsened flash floods, which have claimed seven lives over the past week.
Earlier this week, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said frequent land-use change in Bali, paired with extreme weather, have triggered deadly flash floods and landslides.
Cok Ace, as the vice governor is popularly known, says he agrees with Walhi's assessment and is calling for more responsible land development on the island.
"If we look at the trees that are being carried away by the flash floods, we can see that they were cut down decades ago. So I'm asking for greater supervision at the source of land developments, and for them to not cut down trees so freely," he said Thursday evening.
The Bali chapter of Walhi cited the LNG terminal construction in Sanur and the Gilimanuk Toll Road as two major projects that have considerably hampered Bali's ability to deal with natural disasters.
"For the administration, this is a slap in the face and a call for introspection. They can't only open up to the people and tell them to be patient and strong after a new disaster. But they don't involve the people when they draw up [environmental] regulations," Walhi Bali Director Made Krisna Dinata said on Tuesday.
Flash floods and landslides were reported in six regencies, namely Karangasem, Jembrana, Tabanan, Bangli, Gianyar, and Badung, as extreme rainfall has consistently poured on the island since Oct. 16. Seven people, including two children, have reportedly been killed, either from being buried by a landslide or from being swept by flood water.
As of Oct. 19, officials estimate that damage to public property amounted to IDR6.6 billion (US$422,385). The Bali Provincial Government has set aside IDR30 billion (US$1.9 million) in aid for those displaced from their homes or affected in other ways.
The hashtag #PrayforBali has been trending throughout the week in Indonesia amid nationwide concern for the natural disasters on the Island of Gods.