Jamal Abdun Nashr, Semarang – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) assessed that disasters occurring on Java Island were attributable to poor spatial planning. Consequently, Java contributed to the highest number of catastrophic events in the archipelago.
Many areas on the island that should be water catchment areas have changed functions. "There is a function shift of protected areas to commercial use, whether for industry, offices, educational centers, or others. We call it spatial planning mismanagement," said Walhi's campaigner Abdul Ghofar in Semarang, Monday, January 23, 2023.
He noted that in the last four years, Java has become the epicenter of disasters in the country. In 2019, 2,351 disasters occurred, or 61 percent of the total national disasters. In 2020, there were 2,368 disasters, or 50.9 percent of the national disasters. In 2021, there were 2,511 disasters or 46.3 percent of the national disasters. In 2022, there were 1,839 disasters, or 51.8 percent of the national disasters.
"There are three provinces which over the past four years have become the three top biggest contributors to disasters in Indonesia. They are West Java, Central Java, and East Java," he said.
The massive conversion of land functions in Java has also been triggered by a large number of developments, both by government and private parties, including the national strategic project (PSN). "Java Island has 83 PSN, or 33 percent of the total PSN, with an investment value of Rp1,923 trillion," Abdul disclosed.
The high number of infrastructure development is also eased by licensing without adequate environmental standards. After the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law or Perpu on Job Creation Perpu and the Environment Minister's Regulation on the exception of the environmental impact analysis (Amdal) obligation were issued, the licensing process for spatial planning was relaxed.
Meanwhile, no big cities in Java have fulfilled the obligation of green open spaces. "None of the big cities in Java have fulfilled the spatial planning law, namely 30 percent areas allocated for green open spaces," Abdul underlined.
Walhi Central Java Executive Director Fahmi Bastian cited an example of mismanagement of spatial planning in Semarang. According to him, disasters often occurred in the city because the upper area which should function as a water catchment have turned into industrial and residential areas.