West Kalimantan NGOs want
public voice in spatial
planning talks

NGOs want the public to contribute to ongoing deliberations on revising the Provincial Spatial Planning (RTRW) bylaw by the West Kalimantan Legislative Council.

“Public participation has been restricted to knowing, without an active role in planning, management and control,” Hermansyah, the coordinator of the People’s Coalition for Fair and Sustainable Spatial Planning, said at a recent discussion in Pontianak.

Gemawan Institute director Laily Khainur said that political parties and their representatives on the council should be committed to representing local communities and protecting the lives of people at the grass roots level when revising the bylaw.

“The issue of community-based land management is related to their constituents and party supporters, who have been struggling to protect areas facing investment expansion that pose threats to the land and forests,” Laily said.

Hermansyah said that previous revisions of the RTRW bylaw were enacted without the people’s involvement, leading to conflicts between communities, investors and regional administrations.

According to Hermansyah, 70 residents and activists were detained in 105 land disputes in West Kalimantan’s 12 regencies between 2004 and 2011.

“The conflicts were spread out quite evenly, proving that policies and strategies did not included acknowledgement and protection of areas managed by the people, Hermansyah said.

Meanwhile, Azhuri Ishar, the deputy chairman of the legislative council’s special committee overseeing the revision of the RTRW bylaw, said that the committee faced several challenges as it deliberated on the ordinance, such as imprecise land allocations for local communities in developing commodities.

Azhuri, for example, cited the unclear allocation of 250,000 hectares for sustainable farmland and 1.2 million hectares for community-based rubber farms.

The councillor also said that the role of regents in spatial planning needed to be revised from a primary focus on conservation to allocating land for investment to spur economic growth.

“The draft RTRW ordinance still needs a lot of corrections and improvements,” Azhuri said.

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