An official from Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs apologized for the environmental damage caused by the reclamation of Benoa Bay and confirmed in a meeting with Bali Governor Wayan Koster that the controversial project will be put to a stop.
"We apologize to everyone. The environmental damage, it was not something that anyone wished for. This fundamental, technical and management error will be corrected," said Ridwan Djamaluddin, Deputy for Infrastructure at the ministry, as quoted by Bali Express.
Last month, Koster issued a formal letter urging state-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) III to stop the reclamation of Benoa Bay. The move came after a monitoring team found that 17 hectares of mangrove forest in the area were destroyed because of the project.
The team, consisting of officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as Bali's Environmental Agency, also found that Pelindo's reclamation project in Benoa Bay had violated a number of regulations, including the absence of revetment and silt screen, which was already laid out in an environmental impact assessment, locally known as AMDAL.
The Benoa Bay reclamation project has been controversial since it was first proposed in 2012, sparking resistance movement organized by the Balinese People's Forum to Reject Reclamation (ForBALI), a group of activists made up of artists, musicians, lawyers and other impassioned locals.
Launched in 2013, the movement have consistently took to the streets and highlighted concerns that the reclamation project will have damaging impact to the environment.
In response to this most recent development in the project, ForBALI coordinator Wayan Gendo Suardana said that the government's apology is not enough.
"A mere apology will be bad precedent for environmental protection in Bali and in Indonesia," Gendo said.
He emphasized that Pelindo must be required to recover the area that has been impacted by the project in order to set an example for the future.
The initial plan in Benoa Bay was to build an all-encompassing port facility, which included hotels, resorts and even a shopping arcade and golf course. Now, Ridwan said that those plans will be reviewed, though the main plan to have Benoa Port as a cruise ship harbor is still a go.
"As we all know, the government is working hard to boost tourism, and Bali is Indonesia's backbone, so we are planning to develop the Benoa Port to be the main harbor for cruise ships," Ridwan said, as quoted by Kumparan.