Bali's provincial government is set to designate Benoa Bay as a maritime conservation site soon, but, with several other massive infrastructure projects also planned in the southern part of the island, activists are urging officials to also consider stopping those that might also pose a threat to the environment, just as the Benoa Bay reclamation project did before politicians recently agreed to withdraw it.
"We hope the working group [in charge of this matter] will continue to ensure that Benoa Bay will become a conservation site," the director of the Balinese chapter of Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), I Made Juli Untung Pratama, told Tribun-Bali.
Other upcoming projects planned in Bali include sand dredging along the western coast, from Kuta to Canggu, the expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport, and the expansion of the Port of Benoa. They are all included in a zoning plan for Bali known as RZWP3K, which would be adopted to a regional regulation once it is finalized.
Activists are concerned that these projects might lead to new environmental problems and highlighted how many islanders are most at risk from such threats. Therefore, Walhi Bali emphasized that the government should put a stop to any project that may potentially harm the environment.
Yesterday, in the latest meeting discussing these projects at the Bali governor's office in Denpasar, a group of youths from Legian participated in the meeting and claimed that the government's working group never bothered to get them involved in the discussions.
"We are disappointed that the working group never got us involved or informed us about the plans for developing a sand mine, which will impact our area," Agus Rama, who heads the youth group from Legian village, told Radar Bali.
Agus said that they only became aware of the project after activists from Walhi Bali and the Balinese People's Forum to Reject Reclamation (ForBALI) informed them about it.
"We hope that the sand mine project will not commence," I Wayan Satria Prayida from Legian Cares Solidarity Group (SOLID) said.
The head of RZWP3K's working group, who also heads Bali's Maritime and Fisheries Agency, I Made Sudarsana, said that any future plans will consider the impact on the Balinese people first and foremost.
Officials say the fact that Benoa Bay is going to be designated as a conservation site reflects that spirit.
"There's a will from the people for it to be that way, so we put it as part of a conservation site and not anything else," Nurul Istiqomah from the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, told Tribun-Bali.