The Jakarta Post
Preservation societies and archeologists have upped their campaign to save the site of the ancient capital of the Majapahit Kingdom in Trowulan, East Java, following the ground-breaking of a steel mill a mere 500-meters away.
The site was recently included on the World Monuments Fund's annual list of endangered cultural sites.
Activists have said that the construction of the steel mill was not the first time Trowulan had been threatened by business activities.
University of Indonesia archeologist Mundardjito said that in 2009, the Culture and Tourism Ministry decided to construct a Majapahit Information Center, which damaged the city ruins. The central government quickly put a stop to the project after complaints from the archeological society.
'If we all agree Trowulan is a precious part of our heritage, then we should protect it,' Mundardjito said on Wednesday.
Murdijanto, who is also chief of the National Cultural Heritage Experts Team, said that the government needed to expedite the addition of Trowulan to the cultural heritage list.
'We are currently going through the application process, along with other endangered areas including Gunung Padang and Morojambi,' he said.
As reported earlier, the local administration in Mojokerto issued the building permit for the steel plant, PT Manunggal Sentral Baja, in June, claiming the provincial heritage conservation agency had issued a recommendation supporting the project.
The Trowulan site covers an area of 127 square kilometers and is extremely vulnerable, despite historians across the globe claiming the site to be home to kings and aristocrats who ruled the historic kingdom.
Deputy Education and Culture Minister for Culture Wiendu Nuryanti said recently that the regional administration was not wrong in
issuing a building permit for the steel plant as the area was not a cultural heritage site.
Wiendu said that the ministry had instructed the steel company to suspend construction following protest from the public.
'Once the site is a cultural heritage site, we can immediately revoke the permit,' Wiendu told The Jakarta Post.
Mundardjito said that although the area was not yet a cultural heritage site, several other sites, including Gapura Wringin Lawang, in the area were protected under Law No. 5/1992 concerning items of cultural property and Government Regulation No. 10/1993 on implementation of the law.
Executive director of the Indonesian Heritage Preservation Agency (BPPI) Adrian Perkasa said that if the government only protected a few buildings and not the whole of Trowulan, the future of the site could be in jeopardy.
'We should be more concerned about the area that has not yet been excavated, as it could easily be ruined by heavy machinery and industry,' Adrian said, as quoted by tribunnews.com.