Tengah Island Reclamation Causes Environmental Damage in the Pari Island Cluster

Tengah Island

The reclamation case that occurred in Jakarta Bay apparently did not have a deterrent effect on many business actors in this country. It seems taaahat the activity of stockpiling waters to form new land is still in demand by many business actors or other business actors in Indonesia.

One of the things that has been in the spotlight in recent months is the reclamation activities that are taking place in the waters of Tengah Island, which is part of the Pari Island group, Thousand Islands Administrative District, DKI Jakarta Province.

The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA) criticized the reclamation activity as an attempt to damage the ecosystem in the waters of Tengah Island. The material for backfilling the beaches and waters is strongly suspected of coming from the substrate and coral reefs from these waters.

Secretary General of KIARA Susan Herawati assessed that the practice of hoarding waters carried out by the developer who had privatized Tengah Island was a form of neglect by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP).

“The KKP is negligent in monitoring, prosecuting and sanctioning the perpetrators of the destruction of the Indonesian seas,” he said recently in Jakarta.

According to him, the attitude shown by the KKP is questionable, bearing in mind that the practice of stockpiling coastal and water areas such as on Tengah Island is a form of activity that can damage the environment and aquatic ecosystems.

In addition to damaging, reclamation will also trigger a loss impact for all parties who normally carry out activities in these waters. For example, fishermen, fish cultivators, coastal communities, and/or seaweed cultivators.

“They should have their rights respected and protected. This is because the practice of hoarding beaches and waters is also an activity that is prohibited in accordance with Law Number 27 of 2007 concerning Management of Coastal Areas and Small Islands,” he said.

Susan said, looking at the results of the spatial identification, the landfilling of beaches and waters on Tengah Island had started since 2011 with an area of ​​9 hectares. However, the additional area is estimated to have increased significantly at this time.

During the reclamation activities that have been running for almost 12 years in the waters of Tengah Island, negative impacts have emerged in the form of damage to the aquatic ecosystem. The reason is because the reclamation material is taking dead coral reefs for the foundation.

In KIARA’s assessment, what is currently happening in the waters of Tengah Island illustrates the implementation of Government Regulation Number 26 of 2023 concerning Management of Sedimentation Products in the Sea, namely sea sand mining.

Even though it is a miniature form, activities in the waters of Tengah Island can represent the negative impact of exploiting sea sand as a natural substrate in the waters. This massive activity is claimed by the Government of Indonesia as part of efforts to protect and preserve the marine environment.

Bearing in mind that the threat of damage to coastal and marine ecosystems is imminent, KIARA strongly condemns the neglect shown by the KKP to date. The practice of reclamation should not be allowed in the waters of Tengah Island, because it will have a broad impact on many aspects of life.

With all the risks and threats of environmental degradation faced in the waters of Tengah Island, the Government should be able to act decisively by imposing sanctions on developers. Moreover, reclamation activities must also be stopped without any reason.

According to him, criminal sanctions can be given to developers by referring to Law No.27/2007 concerning Management of Coastal Zone and Small Islands. This action must be carried out, because the Government is the manager of the coastal area and small islands and the waters that surround them.

The Chairperson of the Pari Island Caring Forum (FPPP) Mustaghfirin explained that reclamation activities in the area where he lives have indeed caused many losses. Not only for himself as a traditional fisherman, but also for coastal communities and other parties who usually use the waters of Tengah Island as a place to make a living.

He said that the privatization carried out by business actors in Tengah Island had caused local fishermen to lose their constitutional rights to access all waters in the Pari Islands group.

One example of the loss of constitutional rights is that fishermen often experience expulsion when they are at sea and want to approach the waters of Tengah Island. Another form, is the difficulty of access to fishery and seaweed cultivation activities around these waters.

Lost Access

Most recently, fishermen and coastal communities have experienced ironic conditions there, because the route to cross the shallow waters of Tengah Island has been closed by the developer. Closing is done using sand, rock and dead coral material.

He said that the location was also used by fisherwomen as a place to look for clams and other fish, such as shrimp and sea cucumbers. The location has been used in a sustainable manner with environmentally friendly fishing gear since the previous seven generations.

WALHI’s National Executive Coastal and Sea Campaign Manager Parid Ridwanuddin also recently conveyed his views on the threat of damage to the environment and coastal and marine ecosystems in the waters of Tengah Island in the Pari Islands group.

According to him, in general, Indonesia is currently experiencing the threat of a climate crisis which could drown villages on the coast and small islands. During 2017-2020, the climate crisis in Indonesia has submerged more than 5,400 coastal villages.

“More than that, more than 20 small islands in Indonesia have sunk due to the acceleration of sea water,” he explained.

Not only the impact that has occurred, he predicts that in the next few decades there will also be the threat of sinking islands in Indonesia. In particular, the 83 leading small islands that are on the border, as well as 115 small islands in Indonesia’s deep waters due to the acceleration of sea level rise.

WALHI Jakarta Campaigner Muhammad Aminuddin on a different occasion said that the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta is strongly suspected of not knowing about the seabed reclamation and dredging activities that are taking place in the waters of Tengah Island.

This suspicion surfaced, because until now there has been no action to stop the reclamation and dredging activities of the seabed by the Pemprov DKI. Although, these two activities have a negative impact on the sustainability of marine ecosystems and hinder the access of the people there.

The DKI Provincial Government’s ignorance then escalated into a non-serious attitude. This can be seen from the response to public reports about the two activities submitted by FPPP and WALHI Jakarta via letter in April 2023.

Following up on the letter, on Monday (31/7/2023), the DKI Jakarta Cipta Karya, Spatial Planning and Land Affairs Service as the recipient of the disposition from Acting Governor (PJ) DKI Jakarta Heru Budi Hartono, facilitated a meeting between the community, Walhi Jakarta and the Work Unit Related Regional Devices (SKPD).

For WALHI Jakarta, the meeting set a bad precedent for environmental protection, especially for the coast and small islands in Jakarta. Obviously, because five of the eight agencies invited did not attend the meeting.

Apart from that, Muhammad Aminullah also regretted the lack of information owned by the DKI Jakarta Provincial Government regarding reclamation activities in the waters of Tengah Island. This suspicion was strengthened, because during the meeting with the SKPD, representatives from agencies actually asked each other about land ownership and permits for Central Island.

“The government is completely negligent in protecting the coast and small islands. How can there be reclamation that has been going on for years and has damaged the environment and people’s management areas, but the government doesn’t know the basis of its activities?” he explained.

Meanwhile, Syahroni Fadhil from the Advocacy Division of the Jakarta Walhi said that the climate crisis has caused a number of small islands in the Thousand Islands Regency to sink. From WALHI Jakarta’s records, he said that there were seven small islands that had disappeared due to rising sea levels.

WALHI Jakarta has an analysis of seabed reclamation and dredging activities in the waters of Tengah Island. During the 2013-2022 period alone, seabed dredging activities have expanded to 14 ha and reclamation has expanded to 15 ha on the coast.

Another fact is that reclamation activities in Tengah Island waters also have an impact on decreasing seawater quality and affecting the production of seaweed cultivation, the majority of which are managed by women to supplement the family’s economic needs.

Acting Governor of DKI Jakarta Heru Budi Hartono will oversee reclamation activities in Tengah Island after being highlighted by the Jakarta Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) with the Pari Island Caring Forum (FP3). The reclamation was carried out by a developer on Tengah Island which is in the Pari Island Group, South Thousand Islands.

“We’ll go there later, we’ll see there,” said Heru Budi after reviewing the availability of meat stocks ahead of Eid al-Fitr at PD Dharma Jaya, East Jakarta, Tuesday, April 18, 2023 as quoted from tempo.co.

Real Owner of Pari Island

Residents of Pari Island, South Seribu Islands District, Seribu Islands Regency, DKI Jakarta Province, were disappointed after their report on efforts to privatize the island by PT Bumi Pari Asri (BPA) was slow to respond to the Ministry of Agrarian Spatial Planning/National Land Agency (ATR/BPN) and Presidential Staff Office (KSP).

Together with the Save Pari Island Coalition (KSPP), Pari Island residents and fishermen jointly stated that until now the two state institutions had not responded to their report. As a result, until now there has been no progress in solving the problem.

Meanwhile, the report that was submitted to the Ministry of ATR/BPN and KSP, was about efforts to seize land by PT BPA who wanted to privatize the island. PT BPA claims to own 90% of the Pari Island area from a total of 42 hectares of land on Pari Island.

The Chairperson of the Pari Island Caring Forum, Sahrul, submitted a report on his meeting with the two institutions. In addition to explaining the problems that occurred, he admitted that in the meeting all data regarding the island’s privatization efforts by PT BPA were also presented. Then, reports of intimidation and violations committed by PT BPA were also submitted in March 2017.

When submitting the report, Sahrul said that his party and the coalition asked KSP to immediately summon the ATR/BPN Ministry and examine the process of issuing letters belonging to PT BPA. With the inspection, he hopes there will be cancellation of certificates owned by PT BPA because they are full of violations.

However, according to Sahrul, until now, there has been no progress from KSP regarding this report. Although, at the same time, his party has also submitted a request for cancellation of land rights certificates on Pari Island to the Ministry of ATR/BPN directly.

The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI), which has participated in fighting for the rights of fishermen on Pari Island, criticized the slow response shown by the Government through the two institutions above. According to KNTI representative Tigor Gemdita Hutapea, as a state institution that has the authority to solve community problems, KSP and the ATR/BPN Ministry should have followed up on community problems.

Hope Ombusdman RI

Given that there was no response whatsoever from the KSP and the ATR/BPN Ministry, Tigor said, the only hope that remained was in the hands of the Ombusdman of the Republic of Indonesia. Residents have sent an official letter to the institution, which contains the privatization efforts made by PT BPA.

From this letter, the Ombusdman immediately responded by sending a letter of reply on May 3. In the letter the Ombusdman asked Pari Island fishermen to provide land tenure data for verification with the PT BPA certificate.

Given the rapid response given by the Indonesian Ombusdman, Pari Island residents now have high hopes for the agency to be able to immediately verify the appearance of the certificate owned by PT BPA. According to the representative of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) Ronald Siahaan, there was a violation by the North Jakarta BPN in issuing certificates.

According to Ronald, before a response from the Ombusdman appears, his party hopes there will be coordination between the three state institutions, namely the Ombusdman, the ATR/BPN Ministry, and the KSP. However, this hope never materialized because of the three, only the Ombusdman gave a response regarding the case.

On the other hand, in recent times, said Ronald, PT BPA and government officials have actually forced residents to accept the various solutions offered. Among other things, so that residents can rent land on Pari Island, and or buy land according to the selling price of the tax object (NJOP) to PT BPA.

Above all, Ronald representing the fishermen of Pari Island demanded that the KSP or the Ministry of ATR/BPN together with the Indonesian Ombudsman be able to resolve the problems of fishermen on Pari Island and guarantee the ownership and control rights of the residents that have been owned for generations.

Head of the North Jakarta National Land Agency (BPN) Office, Firdaus, confirmed that there are around 80 names of individuals who have ownership certificates over Pari Island, the Thousand Islands. They then formed a consortium company PT Bumi Pari Asri.

Before they set up the consortium, Firdaus admitted, those 80 names had applied for rights to the North Jakarta District Attorney for ownership of their land on Pari Island. With the application for rights, their uncertified land can be used for personal gain.

“The land is owned by individuals. So, PT Bumi Pari Asri has no rights there. Currently, the PT only has building use rights,” he said.

In connection with the criminalization that was experienced by three fishermen from Pari Island on March 11, the Thousand Islands Resort Police have transferred the case files to the North Jakarta District Attorney. The handover was carried out on May 15. The three fishermen in question are Mustaghfirin alias Boby, Bahrudin alias Edo, and Mastono alias Baok.

The Advocacy Team to Save Pari Island, who knew that the case file had been handed over to the North Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office, said they were surprised. The reason is, previously the team had sent a letter of request to hold the case to the North Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office.

“We conclude that this case was forced by the police. So this case should have been terminated,” said a public lawyer from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Matthew Michele Lenggu.

Matthew explained, his party dared to conclude like that, because the legal team had conducted field checks and it turned out that the Virgin Beach was a joint management area for fishermen. He said, fishermen from Pari Island jointly opened Virgin Beach as a tourist spot.

“To keep Perawan Beach clean, all residents agree that visiting tourists will be charged Rp. 5,000. However, if there are tourists who don’t want to pay, residents still welcome them in. Its nature is not coercive,” he explained.

Apart from no coercion, Matthew assures that levy money from tourists is also not for personal gain, but for the common good. The money, he said, was used to pay cleaning workers, provide electricity, build beach facilities and infrastructure, build places of worship and support orphans.

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