The Jakarta Post
Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) says the Bogor regency administration lacks a commitment to protecting a conservation zone in Puncak, Bogor regency, West Java, alleging authorities have failed to follow up on promises to clear the area of illegal villas.
FWI coordinator Dwi Lesmana said that based on a recent FWI field investigation in Sukatani village, Puncak, four out of 27 villas in the conservation area demolished by the Bogor administration in 2013 have been rebuilt by owners.
He said one of the rebuilt villas was a five-story building, two floors of which have been finished.
'It is true that the villa owners committed a violation by building their villas in a conservation area, but so did the city administration, by failing to conduct strict supervision and spatial-planning enforcement,' Dwi said during a discussion in Bogor.
Puncak, which straddles Cisarua and Megamendung district in Bogor, plays an important role as a water-catchment area to lowland neighbors like Jakarta. However, with a large number of villas built into the hillside, the Ciliwung River ' which flows from Puncak ' often overflows and floods Jakarta during the rainy season.
To address the issue, in late 2013 then Bogor regent Rachmat Yasin, who has recently been arrested for graft, ordered the dismantlement of all villas in the conservation zone.
Supported by Rp 30 billion (US$2.3 million) in funds from Jakarta, the Bogor administration has demolished more than 200 illegal villas. However, there has been no follow-up to restore the area's water-catchment capacity.
According to Dwi, during the demolitions two years ago, the regency administration promised land would be rehabilitated for 'the sake of society'.
'But from what we saw in the field, it [the government] did not do anything after it tore down the villas. The action stopped there,' Dwi continued.
Ernan Rustiadi, Puncak Conservation Consortium chairman, said annual flooding of the Ciliwung River was a severe problem that would not be solved building more dams or river-normalization alone. He said the problem had to be addressed at its roots, which included the rehabilitation of Puncak.
He said one of the main problems that ' one yet to be acknowledged by Bogor officials ' was river dumping by locals and visitors to the area, which causes huge piles of environmentally damaging garbage.
'We found at least 43 mountains of trash in the Puncak area,' said Dwi, who is also dean of the Agriculture Faculty at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB).
Consortium data showed that only 30 percent of trash in Puncak was taken to the landfill, while 70 percent was dumped in the river.
Previously, the Bogor Sanitation Agency said the agency was overwhelmed by the amount of garbage.
During the discussion, Ernan said the administration needed to actively campaign on the consequences of littering, and also had to make sure the community threw their garbage at legal dumps.
'Thankfully, there are a number of communities that have started campaigning and asking people to clean the Ciliwung River. The sustainability of the Ciliwung River can only be maintained if the Bogor administration cooperates with its residents in protecting the area,' Ernan went on.
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