An employee walking along a thermal pipe at the Kamojang geothermal
power plant near Garut, West Java, on March 18. State utility provider
 Perusahaan Listrik Negara is targeting an additional 135 megawatts of
electricity from three new geothermal plants. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,.. etc.)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - (Text version)

“.. Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildren. Why do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time. …”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Indonesia ignores sanitation, waterborne diseases loom: WB

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

Despite the progress in economic development in Indonesia, sanitation has remained a major challenge facing the country, a World Bank executive says.

Almud Weitz, regional team leader of the Water and Sanitation Program for East Asia and the Pacific, told a media workshop here Monday the problem lay with the absence of investment in the sanitation sector.

Indonesia has the lowest percentage of urban sewage treatment among neighbors the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The survey found only 2 percent of urban sewage in Indonesia was treated.

"The three other countries have invested much in sanitation. They have been really into it," Weitz said.

She added that around 60 percent or about 80 million people in Indonesian had no access to sanitation, inflicting US$6.3 billion in economic losses annually on the country.

Failure to act immediately would only cause the next generation to bear the consequences, she said.

"Bad sanitation leads to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea that claims over 100,000 lives of children every year," she said.

Head of the subdivision for drainage and garbage at the National Development Planning Agency Oswar Mungkasa acknowledged Indonesia had not yet developed a sound sanitation system.

"Statistically 68 percent of Indonesian people have access to sanitation systems, but it does not meet the standard of proper sanitation," he said.

He said 70 percent of wells in Jakarta were polluted by E. coli bacteria as many septic tanks were located too close to wells.

Oswar said the government was not the only one responsible for the sanitation problem.

"People need to take responsibility. How you can possibly expect the government to provide sanitation to all Indonesians?"

He said the government was only responsible for providing access to public sanitation facilities such as public toilets and sewage treatment systems.

Low public awareness of sanitation is one of the problems, with people in many places still defecating in rivers, the main source of water for their daily needs.

"They brush teeth, wash and bathe in the same river where they defecate. They do not realize (they're attempting to live a) healthy lifestyle in an unhealthy environment," Oswar said.

Director of environmental health at the Health Ministry Wan Alkadri said the ministry was organizing a community empowerment program called Community-Led Total Sanitation that had been used since 2005 in six provinces: South Sumatra, East Java, West Java, West Nusa Tenggara, West Kalimantan and Jambi.

"The program is quite successful in changing people's habits. There are 160 villages in those provinces (where people) no longer defecate (in unsuitable places)," he said.

Unprecedented palace remodeling job wraps up in Yogyakarta

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

A special team of experts in charge of preparing a detailed engineering design for the reconstruction of earthquake-damaged Trajumas hall at the Yogyakarta Palace has completed its job.

The hall, made mostly of teak, was leveled by the powerful 2006 earthquake

"We are ready to submit our report soon to our funding institution, Gadjah Mada University (UGM), to be forwarded to the Palace," leader of the team Yuwono Sri Suwito told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

The devastating May 27, 2006 quake that damaged parts of the Yogyakarta Palace heritage compound also killed nearly 6,000 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of other buildings in Yogyakarta and parts of Central Java.

Trajumas hall, an open building measuring some 20 by 24 meters near Srimanganti hall, was among the most severely damaged facilities at the palace, with only white ceramic floor tiles and 20 building foundations locally known as umpak remaining.

"The wreckage has been carefully removed and stored for reconstruction," another member of the team, architect and heritage activist Laretna T Adishakti, said.

The Trajumas hall itself used to be the place where courtiers entertained important guests. It was located across from Srimanganti hall where the sultan himself used to receive guests.

The building is believed to be at least as old as the palace, which was built in 1756 by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I.

Following a damage assessment, UGM formed a team comprising of 15 experts from different fields, including anthropologists, archeologists, architects and civil engineers, for planning and carrying out the reconstruction.

Yuwono, who is also chairman of the Yogyakarta Provincial Cultural Council, said his team needs over a year to complete the design, especially due to the complexity of the building and lack of information about the original.

"We worked very, very carefully as we want it rebuilt exactly as it was," Yuwono explained.

The team also strongly recommends that the reconstruction of the building not be entrusted to builders on a tight schedule.

"What we need are artisans with the relevant expertise and skills whose are willing to schedule around work, not vice versa. They have to work under the close supervision of the Palace," said Yuwono.

"Everything must be done very, very carefully without any hurry. Otherwise, we will never be able to rebuild it exactly the way it was," said Yuwono.

In terms of construction, he said, the re-building task was complicated and unprecedented.

The team, for example, found joining systems between different parts of the building never encountered before.

"We are proposing that there should be a copyright for the specific construction design of this building. I think it is a blessing from the earthquake," he said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Too much of a good thing will be disastrous for the retail sector

Debnath Guharoy, Consultant

The Jakarta Post - The runaway development of shopping malls in Jakarta is living proof of reckless greed, a monumental disaster in the offing. It is a good example of how poor information, bad planning and a lack of common sense is already hurting, and will continue to hurt, investors and workers alike.

As always, it is the people at large who will eventually pay the price for the folly of a few.

Anybody who has wandered into one of the shiny new malls in Jakarta will have been surprised by the eerie quiet at midday.

Where is the midday crowd, you wonder? How do the owners pay the staff for waiting patiently for that elusive customer? How will these shiny new shops get returns on their investments? How will the banks recover their loans?

Of all Jakartans 14 years of age and older, 43 percent have been to a shopping mall in the last month. Thirty-four percent have actually spent some money at the mall.

These numbers reflect the collective weight of Jakarta's affluent, its middle class and some of the less privileged. Significantly big, both in terms of footfall and spending. But there is a limit to how many malls they can visit or how much money they can spend.

Not surprisingly, there is no dramatic surge in mall visitation in recent years, with inflationary pressures and rising prices keeping many in the middle class at home. The kind of surge in mall development that Jakarta is going to witness in the next 24 months will overwhelm many, but will "underwhelm" the shopper.

Fourteen new malls, with an estimated floor space of some 600,000 square meters, are mushrooming right now. For whom? Like most of Indonesia's top 20 cities, the middle class in Jakarta isn't really growing and any assumptions of expansion based on population growth are simplistic and inaccurate.

The reality is quite the contrary, in fact.

Developers, bankers and builders are putting up shopping malls as if the country is in the middle of an economic boom. "Build and they will come." That mantra may work in Dubai, an oasis among the rather bland cities in its neighborhood.

But it cannot work here. It is unlikely that Jakarta is going to become a shopper's paradise for the region, in competition with Singapore, anytime soon. Depending on Jakartans to fill the empty spaces or aiming to attract shoppers from the other cities of Indonesia is wishful thinking.

These conclusions are based on Roy Morgan Single Source, the country's largest syndicated survey with over 27,000 Indonesian respondents annually, projected to reflect almost 90 percent of the population over the age of 14. That is a universe of 140 million people. The results are updated every 90 days but the opinions expressed here are my own.

The prognosis isn't difficult to construct. The developers are going to be hit hard. Distress sales will bring down revenues from existing malls. Banks who have financed some of these mammoth new projects will find themselves unwilling owners of real estate.

As always, they will aim to recover those losses from their other customers, big and small. Big retailers and franchise-owners will see smaller returns from each outlet they currently own and feel pressured to open in the new malls to protect their overall market share.

Small retailers hoping to win from their mere presence in a glitzy new mall will suffer from sparse traffic. Many of the new retail jobs created will wither away in time, creating anguish among families. The shopping mall "pie" simply isn't growing and slicing the same one up in even smaller pieces is going to leave a lot of red on the balance sheet. It won't be ketchup.

Why does this kind of self-inflicted malaise occur in Indonesia? Whether it is developers, retailers or bankers, there is an amazing lack of maturity among decision-makers.

While some industries have their own associations, very few of them are effective. This appears to be true of industries across the spectrum.

The utter lack of appropriate data, the misplaced over-confidence and the scant regard for basic marketing discipline are the primary culprits.

There is no advantage in jumping off a cliff ill-equipped, either individually or one after the other.

If industry association meetings are forums to protect vested interests and spread disinformation to confuse the competition instead of being the industry platform to collate and share hard data, experiences and concerns, the immaturity of individuals at the helm will inflict pain not only upon themselves but also upon their associates and society at large.

Without intellectual maturity, without commercial discipline, every type of business is vulnerable -- not just the retail sector. If an essential resource for a successful business is reliable information, not misinformation or disinformation, what does your association offer? Then ask yourself what you have done for it lately.

The writer can be contacted at

Low-cost housing development to increase up to 30 percent

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A real estate association said Monday it would aim for a 25 to 30 percent increase in the development of houses for low-income people throughout the country in 2008.

"We will continue to develop more subsidized houses for low-income people, particularly in Greater Jakarta, Bandung (West Java), Sidoarjo (East Java) and in some other areas," the chairman of Real Estate Indonesia (REI), F. Teguh Satria, said.

"Demand for low-cost houses has increased, especially in Batam in the Riau islands, Pekan Baru, Semarang and Makassar."

Teguh said the association aimed to build around 130,000 low-cost houses throughout the country this year.

The target for last year was 100,000, but developers only managed to build some 78,000 units.

Both figures were below the target set by the government, which wanted at least 1.35 million low-cost houses built during the 2004-2009 period, or around 280,000 units per year.

Teguh said developers were not able to meet the government's target because they faced various obstacles including a limited availability of land, high taxes and short supplies of water and electricity.

To support the low-income group, the government increased the subsidy on low-cost houses by Rp 300 billion last year to Rp 800 billion in 2008.

The subsidy is taken from the state budget and is to cover interest rates charged by banks to low-cost households.

"The government's subsidy on housing will be given to the buyers, not the developers," Teguh said.

"That way, low-income people can afford to buy houses."

The association defines a low-cost home as one priced below Rp 60 million.

"However, we differentiate the prices for houses in Papua and Bali, where construction materials and land in those two areas are more expensive than in Java," he said.

The association defines low-cost homes in Papua and Bali as those priced below Rp 75 million.

Lawmaker Abdullah Azwar Anas said the central bank should push big banks to allocate higher portions of their loans for the development of low-cost houses in order to speed up the pro-poor housing program.

"Most banks are reluctant to finance the development of low-cost houses because it offers a low profit margin," Teguh said.

State lender Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN) has been the most supportive so far, he said. (rff)

Monday, February 25, 2008

'Black-out' costs hotels, restaurants

Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar

Rolling blackouts imposed by state utility company PLN had caused significant losses to hotels and restaurants in Bali, a trade association official said Saturday.

The temporary, rotating electricity cut-offs started Thursday after rough seas disrupted shipments of coal and oil to major PLN plants in Java.

The disruption reduced resort island's electric supply to 100 megawatts. Normal supply is around 562 MW, with some 200 MW of it coming from power plants in Java.

Officials at the PLN's Bali branch said the blackouts were the worst energy crisis the island had ever faced.

Head of the Badung chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, Ferry Markus, said that restaurants and non-star hotels suffered the most from the event.

The non-star hotels reported steep increases in operational costs after the black-out forced them to generate their own power supply using privately owned generators.

Almost every hotel in Bali is already equipped with an electric generator. But hotel owners -- particularly at the smaller hotels -- were complaining about the high costs of keeping them running, he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Hotel generators run on diesel fuel which is subsidized by the government and costs between Rp 4,250 to Rp 4,500 per liter. However, by law these businesses aren't eligible for subsidized fuel and have to purchase it at prices that are 40 percent higher.

The purchase of diesel fuel alone had seriously impacted daily operational costs said Ferry.

"The electric generator was designed to be a temporary source of energy and not as a main power supply. When hotels have to run their generators 24 hours a day, the noise starts to bother even the most patient guests, and this is what is happening."

Small non-star hotels make up the bulk of the association's 2,000 member hotels.

The island's restaurants suffered even worse losses, according to the official.

As many restaurants don't have generators, food stocks were quickly destroyed when the power cuts occurred.

While the association hadn't finished compiling reports from its members, Ferry said there were preliminary indications the losses would be significant.

"We don't blame the government over this power shortage. We understand it was caused by bad weather. But, we also hope the government will take the matter seriously to keep it from happening again," he said.

"We expect the current crisis will be over soon because the industry simply can't sustain further losses (on this scale)."

Separately, Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha said the local administration and PLN planned to build a power plant in Gerokgak region, Buleleng regency, around 140 kilometers northwest of Denpasar.

The 450 MW power plant, he said, would be able to meet the island's increasing demand for electric power and alleviate the need to ration power supplies in the future.

"Once it operates, we can even send electricity to Java," he said Friday.

Construction would begin this year and the plant was expected to come online by the end of 2009, he said.

The local administration was also mulling proposals for wind, solar and water-powered energy plants, he added.

Bakrieland expands to infrastructure projects

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Publicly listed PT Bakrieland Development is expanding to infrastructure projects, acquiring a 100 percent stake in PT Semesta Marga Raya (SMR) -- the developer of the 35-kilometer Kanci-Pejagalan turnpike.

Bakrieland Development president director Hiramsyah S. Thaib said in a media statement over the weekend that the acquisition, currently being conducted by a subsidiary, would be finalized early March at a cost of Rp 690 billion.

While the company's core business will remain in the property sector, Hiramsyah said, it is now entering the lucrative infrastructure sector -- focusing on toll roads and monorails.

"In the future, we predict the infrastructure sector will be able to contribute between 35 and 40 percent of the company's total revenue," he said.

At Oct. 31 last year, the company's unaudited net profits had reached Rp 88.8 billion, on revenue of Rp 547.7 billion. January-October 2007 profits surpassed 2006's full-year profits of Rp 67.8 billion.

Commenting on the Kanci-Pejagalan project (part of the massive Trans Java scheme), Hiramsyah said SMR had completed all the land-acquisition needed and would soon begin construction.

Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Negara Indonesia have expressed interest in financing up to 70 percent of the project, estimated to cost around Rp 2.3 trillion, he said.

In addition to city residential projects, the company also develops hotels and resorts such as the Legian Nirwana Suites & Residences in Bali.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Super-speed Internet satellite blasts off in Japan

(CNN) -- Japan launched a rocket Saturday carrying a satellite that will test new technology that promises to deliver "super high-speed Internet" service to homes and businesses around the world.

A rocket carrying a super-fast Internet satellite lifts off from its launch pad on the Japanese island of Tanagashima.

The rocket carrying the WINDS satellite -- a joint project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries -- lifted off its pad at 5:55 p.m. (0855 GMT).

If the technology proves successful, subscribers with small dishes will connect to the internet at speeds many times faster than what is now available over residential cable or DSL services.

The Associated Press said the satellite would offer speeds of up to 1.2 gigabytes per second.

The service initially would focus on the Asia-Pacific region close to Japan, a JAXA news release said.

"Among other uses, this will make possible great advances in telemedicine, which will bring high-quality medical treatment to remote areas, and in distance education, connecting students and teachers separated by great distances," JAXA said.

The rocket was launched from Japan's Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center.

Friday, February 22, 2008

PLN in dark over blackouts

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State power firm PT PLN said Thursday it could not guarantee when the rotating blackouts in Java and parts of Bali would end as bad weather continued to disrupt coal supplies to its power plants.

However, PLN transmission director Herman Darnel Ibrahim said it would switch to oil-based fuel to replace coal, as coal transporting ships could not dock due to big waves caused by cyclone Nicholas south of Bali.

"We hope that the oil supply can save our operation at the moment, but we must keep our budget in check as oil is more expensive than coal," Herman told The Jakarta Post.

Pertamina senior vice president for marketing Hanung Budya said the state oil and gas firm increased the oil supply for PLN power plants by an average 50 percent in February to anticipate the lack of supply for some PLN generators.

With the additional fuel supply from Pertamina, Herman said the power deficit on Friday would be less than the 653 megawatts earlier estimated by the company.

Particularly on weekends, PLN said there would be no blackouts as industries and offices turned off electricity consumption.

With bad weather forecast to continue through April, PLN has been asking customers, both households and industries, to reduce consumption by at least 10 percent, especially during the peak load time of 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

"Thanks to consumer participation, we were able to reduce the power deficit on Wednesday night by 300 MW, so we only suffered a deficit of 700 MW," PLN acting director for power and generation Fahmi Mochtar said.

He also called on industries to use generators rather than electricity from PLN to lessen the power firm's burden.

Due to disruptions to its fuel supply, PLN has instituted rolling blackout of three to four hours since Monday in several parts of Jakarta.

Fahmi said PLN was also upgrading its fuel supply management to minimize disruption in the event of future shipment delays.

PLN also urged the government to allow companies to use foreign-flagged ships to transport its coal instead of only local ships as required by the shipping law.

Currently, PLN only uses nine ships with a capacity of 60,000 tons each. Fahmi says the company should have 15 vessels to supply all of its power plants in Java and Bali.

Java and Bali power plants have a total capacity of about 18,000 MW and serve 22 million consumers.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the government was looking for a way PLN could get additional gas supplies to secure its power supply.

He wants PLN to build a liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Java so it can receive gas supplies from other places.

The minister has urged the Tangguh gas plant in Papua to deliver gas from its third and fourth processing units to PLN and other domestic industries.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Indonesian Toilet Association raises stink over cleanliness

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The lack of clean public facilities in the country attests to the apathy most people feel regarding the issue of toilet cleanliness, according to a concerned group.

"Most Indonesians still look down on toilets although they use them at least five times a day," said Naning Adisowo, chairwoman of the Indonesian Toilet Association.

"Sorry to say, most toilets in state buildings are badly designed, forcing the user to spray a lot of water," she said.

She estimated that on average, an Indonesian uses 21 liters of water in the toilet per day.

"There must be action from the government to promote clean toilets that use less water. It could be part of the effort to mitigate a potential water crisis due to climate change," she said.

"Clean toilets do not have to be luxurious. It is more important to have the design be eco-friendly and use less water and energy."

Naning pointed to several countries where toilet cleanliness is a top priority.

"Several countries, including Singapore, China and Thailand, are selling their clean toilets to attract tourists," she said.

The Chinese government has promoted the use of green toilets to welcome millions of athletes, officials and visitors to the 2008 Olympic Games in August.

Naning, who is an interior designer, began to realize the importance of clean toilets after being invited to the World Toilet Organization-sanctioned World Toilet Forum in 1999.

She set up the Indonesian Toilet Association in 2001.

"Since then, we have campaigned to change the public mind-set on clean toilets," she said.

The association travels to cities to inspect the quality of toilets both in private and state buildings.

"We have invited officials from state offices, including the Health Ministry and the State Ministry for the Environment, to discuss the issue but there has not been a positive response. They laugh at our program," she said.

"I say a nation without good toilets is a nation without culture. Dirty toilets are a national embarrassment."

Naning said the Jakarta administration pledged to set up green public toilets, but never followed through with action.

"I think it (dirty toilets) discourage tourists from visiting Jakarta," she said.

"We are now lobbying the administration of Yogyakarta to establish green public toilets and make it a selling point to attract tourists."

The association also visits schools and universities to teach students about proper toilet behavior and "ecological sanitation".

"We also plan to provide free-of-charge training to cleaning service staff on how to maintain toilets," she said.

The majority of Indonesia's 220 million citizens do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets.

The National Development Planning Board said poor sanitation caused potential economic losses of US$6.34 million annually and led to the deaths of 100,000 toddlers every year.

There are a number of international forums on toilet issues, including the Singapore-based World Toilet Organization and the World Toilet Association in South Korea.

Currently, the WTO has 91 member organizations from 46 countries.

"But officials from the Indonesian government never attend the toilet forum," she said.

Indonesia warns of massive power crisis 2008-02-20 18:16:47

JAKARTA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian government warned on Wednesday that a massive power crisis could hit the most crowded island of Java in the coming days due to disruption in fuel supplies at major generators.

"The government is likely to announce an emergency situation" unless the problem is solved immediately, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in an open hearing with legislators here.

Storms and high tides have caused delays in fuel and coal shipment to five major generators on Java, home to about 60 percent of the national population, resulting in a deficit of 1,000 megawatts of electricity supplies.

The government will announce a state of emergency in power supplies when the deficit grows to 1,500 megawatts, the minister said.

Earlier in the day, the state-run electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) issued a call for residents to cut electricity consumption by up to 20 percent until supplies are back to normal.

The Cilacap power plant in Central Java could suspend operation as soon as Thursday, as could the Tanjung Jati plant on Friday due to fuel constraints, the company said.

Other major plants are operating at lower capacity, PLN said in a statement, quoted by leading news website Detikcom.

Architects call for more green buildings

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The time has arrived for Indonesia's big cities, including Jakarta, to start applying "green building" designs to help reduce energy consumption and thus save the earth, a forum heard Tuesday.

One of the speakers at the international forum, architect Ridwan Kamil, said energy-saving designs were urgent for the densely populated capital, which has little space for green areas.

The designs capture sunlight as it travels through a transparent roof that illuminates the building's interior, while natural wind blows through architectural airways to provide ventilation.

A developer can significantly cut spending on power, from US$1,000 per kilowatts-hour to $300 per kilowatts-hour, when applying the concept, according to Poul E. Kristensen, a managing director of Malaysia's IEN Consultants, also a speaker at the forum.

Ridwan said the simplest way for existing buildings, particularly high-rises, to apply at least a portion of the concept was by greening their roofs.

"It's not impossible to have a big tree grow on top of a building here like those in Japan, the country I know of that has imposed the green-roof policy," he said.

"On the other hand, energy-saving factors can only be implemented when they have been included in the buildings' initial design."

The application of such a green-roof, he said, would lead to an immediate drop of one to two degrees Celsius in ambient temperature inside the building.

Indonesian Architect Association president Budi A. Sukada said the capital must immediately respond to the world's call for green buildings.

However, he said he worried the capital was not ready for this "modern" concept.

"Our architects are not prepared for the green building concept because we've never been taught it in our schools," he said.

Ridwan said the hardest part in implementing the concept was to convince developers that their green buildings would sell out in the market.

"On top of that, the administration should also be committed to the world's demand by enforcing a green-roof policy," he said.

Governor Fauzi Bowo said the capital, which has no green buildings, was not yet prepared but must adopt the concept "immediately".

"What we need to do first is to shape the people's perception that this concept is mandatory to save the environment, and this will take a lot of time," he said at City Hall.

"We may also encourage developers to construct 'green' buildings by giving incentives on land and building taxes, but our taxation system is yet supportive."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waste problems continue to cause headaches

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Jakarta administration is still trying to determine the best way to deal with the 26,945 cubic meters, or 6,000 tons, of waste the city's 10 million residents produce each day.

Currently most of the garbage produced by households and offices in Jakarta is transported to the Bantargebang dump site in Bekasi, sparking anger from local residents.

The administration believes building more dumps -- which would use sophisticated waste treatment methods -- may be the solution to the waste problem in Jakarta.

City Sanitation Agency head Eko Bharuna said the establishment of one waste-to-energy facility would cost the administration up to Rp 200 billion (US$15.96 million), but in return the electricity it produced could be worth as much as Rp 1 trillion.

To compliment one such facility that already exists in East Jakarta's Cakung area, the agency has planned three more facilities to be located in Duri Kosambi in West Jakarta, Marunda in North Jakarta and Pulogebang in East Jakarta.

In total, the four facilities could treat up to 4,000 tons of garbage per day, Eko said.

"We are still hoping investors will help develop these projects," he told The Jakarta Post recently.

Sanitation experts regularly warn of Jakarta's garbage crisis worsening in the absence of new dump sites.

Piles of garbage are often left scattered around the capital for days as the city regularly encounters a shortage of garbage trucks.

Currently the city sanitation agency operates 774 of its own garbage trucks and rents 100 others, while private companies operate 165 garbage trucks and city market operator PD Pasar Jaya owns 58 trucks.

When fully operational, each of the 1,097 garbage trucks operating in Jakarta can carry 20.9 cubic meters of waste at any one time. Therefore, the city would need at least 1,278 trucks to adequately deal with the waste produced in Jakarta on a daily basis.

To make matters worse, experts have predicted waste produced in the capital will amount to 6,337 tons per day in 2010 and 6,678 tons in 2015.

To illustrate the dire situation Jakarta faces, experts often say if the 110-hectare National Monument Park was transformed into a temporary dump site, it would be completely submerged with rubbish within 40 days.

Khalisah Khalid from the Indonesian Environment Forum (Walhi) in Jakarta said it was high time for a paradigm shift.

A waste treatment bill is currently under deliberation in the House of Representatives. If passed all regional administrations will be obliged to tap garbage for its economic value, while open dumping will be forbidden.

"The bill will also encourage the local administration to empower local communities to manage their own waste," Khalisah said.

However, she said the fact the administration tends to focus on capital-intensive waste management facilities may hamper this process.

"Waste problems in the city cannot be overcome with just the use and management of technology. Since the garbage problem is related to consumption and production in the city, there should be a change in people's lifestyles," Khalisah said.

At least 20 subdistricts in Jakarta and dozens of others in Greater Jakarta have implemented reduce, reuse and recycle programs to manage waste.

These communities are able to enjoy the economic value of compost and charcoal as well as plastic goods and souvenirs produced from household waste.

Eko said such community initiatives had helped reduce Jakarta's daily waste production volume by up to 10 percent.

"However ... to reduce the amount of garbage produced in the city by 20 percent in the next five years we will have to develop an industry to market the products.

"We are cooperating with the State Ministry for State Enterprises in our search to find big industries to support community-based waste management programs. But to make it happen will take time," Eko said.

Govt plans new power billing system

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Aiming to spend less on electricity subsidies this year, the government will start billing households at progressive rates.

Director general of electricity and energy utilization J. Purwono told The Jakarta Post the policy would encourage customers to use electricity wisely and was intended to ease subsidy burdens on state power company PLN.

"There will be a reward and punishment mechanism," Purwono said, adding the policy would be applied in March.

PLN subsidizes household electricity use which accounts for almost 90 percent of total national electricity use.

The new system which rewards households that keep 2008 consumption to 80 percent of 2007's average national electricity consumption -- determined on the basis of "household groups" -- was expected to see national power consumption drop by 20 percent.

At present, households power capacity is grouped at either 450, 900, 1,300 or 2,200 watts.

Households whose consumption exceed the government's 80 percent benchmark will be subject to penalties in the form of higher rates.

Purwono said the rates would be progressively billed at 160 percent from the highest tariff recorded in a household group.

Households consuming electricity below the government's benchmark get a 20-percent discount.

"The Energy and Mineral Resources Minister has sent a letter to PLN, instructing them to apply the policy as soon as possible."

The policy would not only target households but also businesses using less than 200 kilowatts, as well as government offices. However, the ministry had not yet completed the rate scheme for business and institutions, he said.

Purwono said the policy would help the government reduce power subsidies by Rp 10 trillion (US$1.08 billion) this year.

The government is concerned the global surge in oil prices will push subsidy spending past original targets.

Based on data from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the new estimated subsidy for electricity this year is Rp 65 trillion, far above the previous estimate of Rp 29.8 trillion.

By moving the price assumption of global oil from $60 a barrel to $83, the Finance Ministry is preparing to raise its power subsidy allocation to Rp 55 trillion.

The new billing system would help the government make up the difference between the Rp 65 trillion figure and the 55 trillion it is willing to spend.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Minister checks waste system at malls

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar found inadequate solid waste management facilities Friday at up-scale shopping center Grand Indonesia, Central Jakarta.

"I have asked Grand Indonesia management to provide proper facilities for solid waste management," he said after inspecting waste management facilities and percolation pits in the compound.

"The management promises to decide within one month which solid waste management facility will be suitable for them, and procure equipment within three months," he said.

The management, however, already had proper facilities for liquid waste management, Rachmat said, adding that it also had percolation pits in compliance with a 2005 regulation.

"It is good to see Grand Indonesia already has 17 percolation pits that function properly during heavy rains," he said.

Grand Indonesia drainage system consultant Nyoman Darmawati said the mall had well-designed percolation pits that could hold up to 40 cubic meters of water each.

"We also have a 3.2-kilometer drainage system that can retain up to 1 million cubic meters of water before releasing it slowly into Cideng River," she said.

"That's why this mall is flood-free."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Low-cost apartments built for students

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In a bid to provide better facilities and welfare for students, the government would build 43 low-cost apartment complexes for universities this year, a minister says.

Public Housing Minister Yusufsaid Thursday his office planned to build student accommodation in various cities across Indonesia.

"We have allocated Rp 9 billion (US$975,135) under the state budget to build student accommodation. Building apartments for students has been our main concern because it is important to support the learning process," he said.want to encourage students to live in apartments because there is less and less land available for housing in big cities in Indonesia," he said after the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of apartments at the University of Muhammadiyah Prof. Dr. Hamka (Uhamka) in Ciracas, East Jakarta.

Asked about other universities which would get similar facilities, Yusuf said the selection process was still underway.

He said around 60 universities throughout Indonesia had applied for the student accommodation.

"We still have to select which (other) universities will get apartments," he said.

Under the plan, universities provide land while the ministry would build the apartments.

Last August, Yusuf initiated four apartment projects at three universities; One for University of Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, one for the Indonesian Islam University (also in Yogyakarta) and two for Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java.

Uhamka dean Suyatno said the ministry would build two apartments, one each for male and female students, on a 6,332-square-meter block of land. There will be a total of 112 rooms measuring between 21 and 27-square-meters and each would accommodate four students.

The project is expected to be complete within six to eight months.

Suyatno said new students would have priority to rent and stay in the apartments, which would be built in Campus B in Ciracas, East Jakarta.

"We are concerned that new students who come from outside Jakarta and can not afford high rent. They sometimes have difficulty finding low-cost and appropriate boarding houses. That's why we want to help them by providing accommodation," Suyatno said.

The university has 9,700 students including 2,700 freshmen.

He realized the student apartments would not accommodate all the new students.will establish an team to select which students can rent and stay in the apartments," he said, adding that the rent fees had not been set.

"It's too early to say anything about the rent. We haven't set up a mechanism for it either. We hope the rent will be much cheaper than rents for boarding houses nearby, which cost around Rp 300,000 per month.

Uhamka students responded to the apartment project positively.

Siti Amaliah, 20, said it was a great idea.

"It will be helpful to students who come from other cities," she said.

"But the university dean should explain more about which students would qualify to get rooms in the apartment." (trw)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Govt wants halth to new housing

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The State Ministry for the Environment has proposed a moratorium of new housing complex development projects in urban areas, in a bid to curb flooding and other environmental disasters.

The ministerial office said many real estate developers had expanded their projects, affecting water retention areas.

"We need to temporarily halt the development of new housing projects. It may take local government two or three years to develop more green spaces," Hermono Sigit, head of the river division at the ministry, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said the recent floods that hit Jakarta were in partly caused by land development that sacrificed green spaces.

"If projects go ahead, urban areas will run out of green space. Then we will see more flooding, including in Jakarta," he said.

The ministry has recommended construction of apartments instead. It had previously proposed suspension of tree clearing across Java, to prevent floods, and suspension of car production to reduce air pollution in urban areas, but none of the proposals have been heeded so far.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar may propose the moratorium on new developments at the coming cabinet meeting.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla expressed concerns over the recent floods which hit Jakarta.

Hermono said the shrinking of open and green areas coupled with intensive development projects had made urban areas more prone to floods.

To make it worse, he said, rainfalls were expected to rise with climate change.

Jakarta and its buffer cities of Bogor, Bekasi, Depok and Tangerang (Jabodetabek) experienced the worst floods in 1996, 2002 and 2007.

In the 1996 floods, rainfalls were recorded at 221 mm per day. These climbed to 232 mm in 2002 and 327 mm in 2007, ministry data shows.

"If housing developments occupy new land, the floods will worsen," he said.

The ministry's land cover analysis revealed Indonesia's river basins were in a critical condition due to the rapid development of housing complexes.

"In the Cisadane river basin, only 10 percent of the original forest is remaining, and only 8 percent in the Ciliwung," he said.

The forestry law requires local administrations to protect at least 30 percent of forest areas in a river basin.

He said the development of river basins had also accelerated over the past five years.

"Housing complexes in the Ciliwung river basin increased 58 percent between 2000 and 2005," he said.

The ministry data shows 31 percent of the forested lands in the Bengawan Solo river basin in Central Java had been converted to agricultural areas while some 97.216 ha of the basin's forest was turned into residential areas.

The Forestry Ministry has planned to reforest upstream areas in 60 river basins, most of which are outside Java.

The ministry said there were 232 river basins in a critical condition.

Separately, developers had reclaimed coastal areas, including in North Jakarta, for construction of real estate and office buildings, Hermono said.

The reclamation project will affect a 32-kilometer stretch of the Jakarta's northern coastline and add about 2,700 hectares to Jakarta's area.

"Many buildings are also now standing in lake areas," he said.

Only five of the 45 lakes in Tangerang were still in good condition, he said.

GSM association plans to embrace CDMA operators

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Barcelona

The global association of GSM mobile technology operators, GSMA, is moving further away from considering CDMA technology operators as rivals and plans to embrace them fully into the mobile community next year.

Speaking at the Leadership Summit, held within the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, chairman Craig Ehrlich said there was a need for a shared view on technologies and convergence models within mobile companies because the industry had become more services-oriented.

"Everyone would agree that we have a shared future, so let's start understanding each other and working with each other and make this organization more representative of the wider ecosystem," he said.

Earlier, the GSMA stated its support of continued mobile broadband development in the Long Term Evolution (LTE) project under a 3G partnership among various associations, to further improve the Universal Mobile Technology System (UMTS) -- which uses the W-CDMA as a base for GSM's 3G technology.

Ehrlich said that CDMA operators committed to an LTE future would have full GSMA representation next year, including non GSMA board member companies, on its various committees.

"GSMA needs to embrace the entire constituency including CDMA operators. Our ecosystem is already wide and complex but we need to welcome more players and actively encourage more involvement and collaboration," he said.

Responding to the chairman's statement, Bakrie Telecom deputy president director Erik Meijer told The Jakarta Post that GSM technology could not advance further without adopting CDMA-based technologies.

Bakrie Telecom's Esia is the fastest growing CDMA operator in Indonesia in terms of new subscribers.

"GSM has been around for a long time. It has been eclipsed by other technologies such as EDGE, UMTS, W-CDMA, HSDPA and soon UMB and LTE. All of the new ones are based in CDMA."

"If GSMA wants a continued existence, they have no choice but to embrace us. It is useless to divide the world with technology. The two technologies will continue on same path toward deeper convergence," said Meijer, who previously was a vice president at Telkomsel, the country's largest GSM player.

"We do not see the need to join the GSMA. Nevertheless, the congress is a good place for you to find new ideas. There is a lot of information here and also (the opportunity to) meet a lot of people from the industry."

With about 230 chief executives involved as speakers, this year's congress, held Monday to Thursday, heralds four main themes: ubiquitous networks, changing business models that challenge traditional operator roles, the mobile phone's social and economic value, and the digital content revolution.

In total, there are about 16,000 exhibitors participating.

The first congress was held in Cannes, France, in 2006 and the second in Barcelona last year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Authorities threatens to seal 8 unsafe parking buildings

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): The Jakarta property management and control agency said on Tuesday it had found eight out of 22 parking buildings it recently checked unsafe.

"Those eight buildings need to be renovated with stronger structures," agency head Hari Sasongko said.

"Otherwise, we'll seal the buildings."

The investigation of 22 parking buildings, most of them in shopping malls, was carried out from Jan. 25 to 30 after an accident that saw a car drive off the Menara Jamsostek building in South Jakarta.

Hari said the buildings that were found unsafe had failed to meet minimum safety requirements set in a 2007 regulation on building structures and geotechnology planning.

The regulation says walls in parking buildings must be strong enough to withstand collisions.

Hari said the control agency had required building managers to propose and submit designs at least one month before commencing renovations.

"Their designs must be approved by an agency-appointed independent team prior to the renovations," he said.

Hari said the eight unsafe buildings included Cempaka Mas International Trade Center, Menteng Prada Apartment and up-scale mall Senayan City, all in Central Jakarta, as well as shopping centers Plaza Semanggi and Pasaraya Grande in South Jakarta.

During the investigation, Hari said the agency found another three parking buildings under renovation and 11 that had met safety standards.

Managers of the 11 parking buildings, however, were still required to submit designs.

The agency said it had conducted safety checks after a number of cars had driven off the side of two parking buildings.

The most recent accident took place last month at the Menara Jamsostek building, South Jakarta, where a 42-year-old chauffeur was killed after backing his car through a steel fence.

Two carpark accidents took place last year at Permata Hijau International Trade Center in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta.

A family of three was killed when their vehicle fell from the sixth floor of the carpark and the second accident occurred when a driver lost control and rolled backwards, smashing through the one meter-high wall of the spiral ramp.(mtq)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bank to fund low-cost housing

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: State-owned bank Tabungan Negara has approved financial proposals for the development of four low-cost apartment buildings in Jakarta, Antara reported Monday.

The four apartment buildings are to be built in Pulogebang and Cawang, both in East Jakarta, and West Jakarta's Cengkareng and Daan Mogot areas.

"We have approved four out of 63 proposals submitted to the bank," president director Iqbal Latanro said.

Iqbal said the bank would allocate Rp 1 trillion for the construction of the buildings from the Rp 10.04 trillion allocated to it in 2008 by the government.

"However, we have to wait for instructions from the Public Housing Ministry as to when we can start providing credit to apartment owners," he said.

The central administration plans to develop several low-cost apartment buildings in Jakarta to provide proper housing for evicted squatters.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bali to host world conference on waste

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia will host an international environmental conference in June to address efforts to reduce exports of hazardous waste from industrialized nations to developing countries.

Rasio Ridho Sani, deputy assistant to environment minister for management of hazardous waste said Sunday environment ministers from 170 countries were expected for the ninth Basel Convention on the control of transboundry movement of hazardous waste.

Scheduled to take place on June 23-27 in Bali, the conference is expected to bring together more than 1,000 delegates from developed and developing nations.

The conference is set to be the second world event on environment that Indonesia will host after Bali's UN Climate Change conference last December.

The Basel Convention was started in 1992 and obliges signatory countries to ensure waste is managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound way.

It says parties should set adequate disposal facilities for the waste and covers toxic, poisonous, explosive, corrosive, flammable, eco-toxic and infectious waste.

Some 168 countries have ratified the convention, excluding the U.S.

Indonesia, the world's longest coastal area, ratified the convention in 1993.

"We are very vulnerable to illegal dumping of hazardous waste," Rasio said.

Indonesia has more than 2,000 entry points along the coastal zone vulnerable to illegal dumps of hazardous waste.

Data from the State Minister for the Environment Office said since the 1980s Indonesia has become a dumping ground for hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

It says the government has accepted requests from foreign countries and companies to dump waste containing hydrocarbon.

This waste results after tankers are cleaned in Indonesian areas, including Tanjung Ucang on Batam Island.

The government has also re-exported tons of hazardous waste to its origin countries, including Singapore.

Japan is the biggest exporter of hazardous materials used for industry and agriculture sectors to Indonesia, sending 31 tons of waste in 2006.

Indonesia yields about seven million tons of hazardous waste per year -- one quarter of which remains untreated.

The country currently has one facility for the treatment of hazardous waste, PT Prasadha Pamunah Limbah Industry (PT PPLi) in Bogor, West Java, with a capacity of 100,000 tons.

Rasio said environment minister Rachmat Witoelar would be the new president of the conference of parties (COP) of the Basel Convention for the 2008-2010 period.

"Pak Rachmat is scheduled to visit the secretariat of the Basel Convention

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Smaller companies benefiting most from new interconnection costs

JAKARTA (JP): Smaller companies in the mobile phone industry such as Bakrie Telecom and PT Mobile-8 Telecom are likely to benefit the most from the new interconnection tariffs introduced by the government, analysts say.

"It will be the smaller ones most likely to benefit in the coming competition," said Felix Sindhunata, the head of equity research at Mega Capital Indonesia.

The government on Monday introduced a new formula for determining interconnection costs between operators, which will bring down tariffs from 20 to 20 percent.

Mobile operators have been told to revise their retail prices to reflect the changes in the interconnection costs and implement the new rates by April 1.

PT Bakrie Telecom trades under the Esia brand, a CDMA-based mobile phone service, while PT Mobile-8 Telecom provides CDMA-based Fren.

The number of Esia subscribers increased from 1.55 million in 2006 to 3.8 million in 2007. The company is targeting seven million subscribers by the end of this year.

Felix said shares in PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), the parent company of the biggest player in the mobile industry, PT Telkomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), fell drastically after the Business Competition Supervisory Commission found the Singaporegovernment's investment arm, Temasek, and subsidiaries guilty of cross-ownership in Telkomsel and the second biggest market player, PT Indosat, which led to "unhealthy competition".

He predicted major players like Telkomsel and Indosat would experience sluggish growth due to the new competition.

Heru Sutadi from the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Board predicted a much more "real" competitiveness following the changes to the interconnection tariffs.(lva)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Reduce urbanization

Deden Rukmana, Savannah The Jakarta Post, GA

In February 2007, the worst flooding in Jakarta's history inundated about 70 percent of the city, killed at least 57 people and sent about 450,000 fleeing their homes. Almost exactly a year later, floods hit Jakarta again. This clearly indicates that flooding is an annual event in Jakarta. Fortunately, the extent of this year's flooding was not as great as in 2007.

Hours of heavy rain in Jakarta caused most of the main roads in the capital to be submerged in knee-deep water, bringing traffic to a near standstill. Thirty-seven of 267 subdistricts in Jakarta were inundated by more than 40 centimeters of water. Floodwaters caused public transportation, including the busway lines across Jakarta, to stop operations, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

One of the major impacts of this year's flooding was the inundation of the Sedyatmo toll road to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, which resulted in the cutting off the highway for a few days. Nearly 1,000 flights were delayed or diverted and 259 flights were canceled. The monetary losses from these delays and cancellations could reach billions of rupiah.

The Indonesia National Air Carriers Association said the loss was about Rp 40 million for each hour an airplane was stranded. The loss is greater for flights that were diverted to other airports due to the additional costs for the fuel, ground handling, navigation charge and airport charge.

The poor drainage system was blamed as the primary cause of this year's floods, as claimed by Basah Hernowo, the director of forestry and water resource conservation at the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), and Pitoyo Subandrio, the head of the Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Bureau (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 2).

This year's flooding was due to local heavy rainfall, and was not combined with rain on the outskirts of Jakarta. Last year, then governor Sutiyoso blamed deforestation and overbuilding in neighboring areas that were supposed to be water catchment areas for the floods. This year such blame is not present. However, the threat of neighboring areas causing severe floods in Jakarta is still present.

The annual floods in Jakarta are strong evidence that Jakarta has not been able to sustainably accommodate its growth. Two centuries ago, the Dutch colonial government, with its long experience in controlling water and drainage systems, built a canal system to protect the city's population which was then 500,000.

Jakarta, which lies in a lowland area with 43 lakes and 13 rivers, relies on the canal system to prevent flooding. Today, Jakarta is a megacity with a population of nearly 10 million within the city's boundaries and more than four million in neighboring areas; yet, it still relies on the same canal system to avert flooding.

Not only is Jakarta the capital of Indonesia, it is also the economic, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of the nation. Jakarta is the prime city of Indonesia and it dominates the urban system. The population of Jakarta is poised to grow faster than other parts of Indonesia.

The annual floods also demonstrate how growth in Jakarta confronts private consumption and public investment in infrastructure. The Indonesian economy has grown at a robust pace of 6 percent a year and Jakarta has been Indonesia's primary growth machine. New homes, commercial and office buildings have proliferated in Jakarta and its neighboring areas, but hardly any new infrastructure, including the expansion of Jakarta's canal system, has been built in the past 10 years since the economic crisis hit Indonesia in 1997.

Neither improving the drainage system nor dredging the canals and rivers is a sustainable solution for the annual floods in Jakarta. The annual floods are strong evidence that rapid urbanization in Jakarta must be reduced. One way to reduce the rapid urbanization is to eliminate the pull factor of urbanization.

One major pull factor of urbanization in Jakarta is its function as the economic, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of the nation, as well as the capital of the country. Indonesia needs to redistribute the central functions from Jakarta to other parts of the nation and create more urban agglomerations to pull urbanization away from Jakarta. Relocating central functions out of Jakarta will not only make Jakarta more sustainable, but also create regional equality in Indonesia.

The writer is an assistant professor of urban studies at Savannah State University in the U.S. He can be reached at

Excessive housing developments cause floods in Bandung: Expert

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

Bandung, the capital of West Java, has been recently deemed unsafe after numerous homes have been annually inundated during the rainy season for the past three years.

Ten years ago floods submerged only the lower parts of the city, but recently higher areas have also been flooded.

While the city is located some 750 meters above sea level, a flash flood swept through Bandung recently when the Cipaganti river overflowed on its way from north Bandung towards the Citarum river in the south.

A 48-year-old resident of Cidadap, Suyatno, said he could not sleep due to the heavy downpours over the past two weeks.

"My family and I have been under threat not only because we live on the edge of the Cipaganti river, but because the rains have been much heavier this year compared to previous years," Suyatno said.

The Dec. 2007 floods washed away three houses, including his own, and now Suyatno's family live in a hut which he constructed from scrap wood, plywood and plastic.

"We never imagined our house would be flooded because this housing area is in the upper part of the city. The recent floods were the second of that kind after the area was inundated in 2006," he said, adding that the flood also inundated housing areas in Cihampelas and Jatihandap.

Flooding on the main streets in Bandung has become a common sight in recent years, and traffic jams have become a daily ritual over the past two months because half-an-hour of rain has been enough to flood the city's roads.

West Java Environmental Forum executive director Denny Jasmara said he blamed the flooding on the deteriorating environment north of Bandung, and the appearance of "stone forests" which he said could no longer serve as water catchment areas for the city.

"Numerous luxurious housing estates in North Bandung have contributed to floods in Bandung which has also been facing a water crisis. Historically, North Bandung supplied 60 percent of the 108 million cubic meters of ground water the city uses annually."

The city administration has issued numerous bylaws and even ministerial decrees to protect more than 38,500 hectares of conservation land in north Bandung, but apparently these efforts have not been enough to stop the floods.

Walhi's campaign and organizing committee chairman Dadang Sudardja said the conservation area could intercept only 30 percent of the rainwater because of intensive construction of housing developments in the area.

"The area has been declared as a protected territory, but the housing developments continue despite the threat of harsh penalties from local authorities," he said.

In 1995, the Agriculture Minister issued a decree banning any individuals and institutions from developing the conservation area but it has not been put into practice.

Until now, the municipal administration has been unable to impose sanctions on anyone living inside the protected area because it was apparently not serious about enforcing the law.

"Developers gained permits from municipal and regency administrations to build houses on the (protected) land long before the construction commenced," Sudardja said.

Local construction and irrigation office chief Rusjaf Adimenggala said the frequent floods were triggered by poor drainage -- not excessive housing developments in the north of the city.

"More than 50 percent of Bandung's drainage system is no longer functioning properly, triggering unexpected floods on roads streets. We have had difficulty repairing the drainage system because it is made from stones," he said.

Adimenggala said, the municipal administration planned to resettle residents living on river banks to low-cost flats in east Bandung in anticipation of flash floods in the future.

Bandung mayor Dada Rosada says the resettlement plan is the only plausible and quick solution for those living on the river banks, and that his administration would work with the central government to help repair the city's drainage system.

The public however has been skeptical over the mayor's plans because in January he refused to sign a moratorium on housing developments in the conservation area in North Bandung.

The mayor was absent for the signing of the agreement, instead attending a ceremony to mark the starting of development of a new hotel in Cihampelas.

The moratorium stipulates that any individuals and institutions constructing buildings in violation of the city's spatial zoning will be prosecuted and fined a maximum of Rp 50 million (US$5,000).