Panca Nugraha, Mataram – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is opposing the administration's plan to construct a cable car facility around Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island.
NTB Governor Zulkieflimansyah has reiterated on several occasions that the plan was in place, saying that the cable car would be located at the climbers' entrance gate in Aik Berik village, Central Lombok. The project, scheduled to begin in May, is expected to finish before the first MotoGP race on the island in 2021.
"The cable car is for visitors who want to enjoy the beauty of Mount Rinjani, so people who come to Lombok will be able to see the mountain's scenery aside from watching the MotoGP race," said NTB Environment and Forestry Agency head Madani Mukarom.
Environmentalists do not welcome the plan. Walhi NTB executive director Murdani said the project would potentially damage the environment and cause social problems.
"The cable car construction will damage the environment because the commercial facilities will definitely result in significant change to the natural landscape of the area," Murdani said on Friday.
Murdani explained that Mount Rinjani needed to be protected as it was a source of livelihood for people who lived around it, in addition to serving as an important source of water in Lombok.
Mount Rinjani was experiencing heavy environmental damages due to illegal logging, forest encroachment and the dry season, all of which occurred every year, he added.
Walhi said the administration was rushing the project since it has yet to conduct feasibility studies on construction. "They [the government] have clearly not thought about the environmental impacts if they begin the construction in May," said Murdani.
He said protection was also needed because the Rinjani area served as a cultural heritage site. The addition of a cable car could therefore potentially exacerbate the current waste management issue that Mount Rinjani National Park is currently struggling to overcome.
"Seeing that there are still many unsolved issues within the mountain area, Walhi disapproves of this project and urges the NTB administration to stop the construction plan," he said.
Mount Rinjani National Park Center head Dedi Asriyadi said the construction project would not take place inside the national park.
"We've already coordinated with the NTB Environment and Forestry Agency, and they informed us that the cable car will not be located inside the national park, but around the plantation areas that the provincial administration has the authority to manage," he said.
Dedi said the project already received the Environment and Forestry Ministry's approval. He also added that the regional investment agency in NTB had given them the principal license to start the project.
"However, the principal license will be used to conduct a study. It will take up to four months to obtain other permits, such as the operational permit, environmental permit, business permit, construction permit and many more. So we still have a long way to go." (dpk)