Greenpeace raises concerns over capital city relocation to Kalimantan

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Greenpeace Indonesia raised environmental and governance concerns regarding a plan to develop a new capital city in East Kalimantan, as it will necessitate forest and land conversion for urban development, thereby definitely impacting the environment.

The plan to relocate our capital to East Kalimantan, if executed without prioritizing environmental protection, can carry risks of creating fresh environmental problems in the new capital, just as Jakarta suffers from environmental crises today. Jakarta’s air is polluted not only by a poorly planned transportation sector but also from the many coal-fired power plants in the area around it. If Indonesia’s new capital city also relies on coal power as Jakarta does, then do not expect the move to a new capital to bring a breath of fresh air,” Country Director of Greenpeace Indonesia Leonard Simanjuntak noted in a statement on Wednesday.

The concerns were raised following President Joko Widodo’s Monday announcement on the relocation of the Indonesian capital to an area straddling the districts of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan.

He was apprehensive of history repeating itself, particularly if the government were to proceed and build mine-mouth coal-fired power plants, as currently planned in several locations in East Kalimantan.

Construction of these mine-mouth coal-fired power plants will wholly undermine the smart, green city concept promoted for the nation’s new capital. They must be stopped, and clean, renewable energy should be provided as the city’s energy source. These coal mines will not only cause air pollution but also have other environmental impacts. Deforestation for mines can lead to floods and reduce clean water supply leading to shortages, as had taken place in nearby Samarinda, he noted.

The threat posed by the global climate crisis, combined with environmental mismanagement of Jakarta, should not be a reason to cut and run by moving the capital. However, it must be a wake-up call and become a major consideration in Indonesia’s development strategy going forward,” he remarked.

Currently, the rate of land subsidence in Jakarta is between one and 15 centimeters (cm) annually and combined with the rising sea level reaching 8.5 cm, it translates to most of North Jakarta being submerged by 2050.

Source: ANTARA News