The Jakarta Post
A study by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has revealed that the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) project, known as the Giant Sea Wall (GSW) or the Great Garuda, would have a massive environmental and social impact on the city, including the disappearance of islands and damage to the maritime ecosystem.
Taslim Arifin, a researcher at the Research and Development Center for Marine and Coastal Resources at the ministry, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that his team had conducted an ecological and physical oceanography survey last year to see how the construction of the GSW would affect the environment around Jakarta Bay. 'The results showed that the wall would affect the sea currents outside the wall, so it could potentially erode the islands in the western part of the bay, including Onrust Island,' he said, adding that the island could eventually disappear.
Onrust, like other islands such as Kelor and Cipir, is a historical site and has been declared an archeological park.
Taslim said that apart from eroding the island, the GSW would also destroy natural habitats in the waters north of Jakarta, including coral reefs.
'More than 50 percent of our coral reef has been destroyed. However, it still has potential as Jakarta Bay is also a spawning area for various fish species,' he said.
He added that although Jakarta Bay was heavily polluted, fish could still be found. 'Their conditionswould be greatly affected,' he said.
The NCICD, previously the Jakarta Coastal Defense Strategy (JCDS), was introduced by Dutch consulting firms to then governor Fauzi Bowo. It is a giant project that aims to mitigate tidal flooding amid a worsening problem of land subsidence.
According to the NCICD's executive summary published in June on ncicd.com, the first phase of the project would be the construction of 15,614 meters of dike segments in Jakarta and West Java.
The second phase would be the construction of the outer sea wall in the western part of Jakarta Bay, scheduled for 2018 and targeted to be completed in 2025. The last phase of the project would be the construction of the outer sea wall in the eastern part of the bay in 2025.
Taslim said that the water inside the GSW would also become a problem. 'As the water is trapped, the pollutants deposited by the 13 rivers in Jakarta would accumulate in one place,' he said.
He said the accumulation would cause eutrophication that would be fatal for the biota in the water as the oxygen concentration fell.
'The water inside the seawall would become a big pond of pollution. It would become worse if the city administration did not start to tackle the pollution in the rivers,' he said.
According to Taslim, the project would also require the city administration to relocate 24,000 fishermen who live along the coast.
In the executive summary, the NCICD cites environmental impacts like the loss of coastal habitats and the transition to fresh water and poor water quality in the large reservoir after closing the sea wall.
It says the impact has been evaluated in a strategic environmental assessment report. 'In brief, the outcome is that the NCICD project does have an environmental impact [as with any large project], but that this is not at an unacceptable level.'
Issues to be taken into consideration include the fact that 'the quality of the habitat in Jakarta Bay is already so poor [due to pollution] that losses would be limited.'
The NCICD says it does not formally include the equally controversial development of 17 islands by the city administration, although it proposes 'a synergy' with the reclamation project.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has been at odds with Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama over the planned reclamation and creation of the 17 islands.