Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. Dozens of activists from a leading environmental watchdog on Monday held a rally in Bali’s provincial capital to protest plans to build a gigantic convention center on the island.
Supporters of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) gathered in front of the Bali Legislative Council building to protest a plan to construct a convention center to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2013.
“The project will endanger Bali’s environment,” said Wayan Gendo Suardana, the head of Walhi’s Bali chapter
Speaking to a number of legislators who received the protesters, Gendo said the planned Bali International Park, which is set to be built on a 250-hectare plot in South Bali, would only put a greater burden on an environment that is already suffering.
Gendo pointed to the growing scarcity of clean water in the South Bali area.
He said the project, specifically requested by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, only aimed to impress APEC participants, but it would be built at a cost to Bali’s environment.
He said the project was contrary to a local law on spatial planning, which aims to move tourism development out of southern Bali to the other parts of the island.
Ketut Kariyasa Adnyana, deputy chairman of the council’s Commission IV, assured the protesters that the council would summon the project’s investors and related parties.
He said the project should not be used to justify a revision of Bali’s spatial planning law.
The planned convention center would have a capacity of 10,000 seats and a world trade and commerce center equipped with an exhibition hall, pavilions and a world culture center.
Supporting facilities would include an international clinic, an art market, a gallery, a food center, a resort and hotel. A complex of 21 residences would also be built to house state guests. The total cost is estimated at Rp 2.7 trillion ($300 million).
Turman Siagian, the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s head of planning and legal affairs, said the president had requested the project because no other convention center on the island had the capacity to host the APEC summit.