Thursday, 18 February 2010

Govt sets 100 days for provinces to deal with spatial plans

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 02/18/2010

The government warned provinces to settle conflicts on forest issues within 100 days at the latest if they wanted proposals on spatial planning to be approved.

The controversial provinces are North Sumatra, Riau Islands, Riau, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and East Kalimantan, which have requested their forests be converted for commercial use over the next five years .

The National Spatial Planning Agency said that provinces and the Forestry Ministry had not reached the deal on the total forest area that could be converted for commercial purposes.

“Local authorities should lower their demand for the total size of convertible forests. It would be a win-win solution to resolve the conflict,” Imam Ernawi told lawmakers at the House of Representatives Commission IV overseeing infrastructure issues on Tuesday.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, the provinces should use the current spatial planning regulations.”

The 2007 Spatial Planning Law requires each province submit proposals on new spatial planning within two
years after the law is issued, while regencies or cities have three years.

The law, issued in March 2007, allows local authorities to change their spatial planning every five years.

As of February, only 10 provinces, including South Sulawesi, Bali, Lampung, North Maluku, West Java and West Papua had secured approval from the public works minister.

Jakarta, is among five provinces that is yet to submit its proposal on spatial planning to the agency for discussion.

“But we hope to finish them all in December,” Imam said.

The final say on changes in spatial planning will be made by the agency after approval from the House.

Imam, who is also the director general of spatial planning at the Public Works Ministry, said that 78 regencies and cities had yet to start formulating their spatial planning proposals.

“It is due to a budget snag and a lack of experts in the regions,” he said.

He said the agency had sent letters to the 78 regencies and cities to start discussing the proposal on spatial planning.

Spatial planning should be a basis for local authorities in developing their area.

Legislator Abdul Hakim from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said the government seemed not to be serious about pushing local administrations, considering the number of those that failed to meet the deadline.

“There must be a breakthrough from the agency that will force local administrations to comply with the deadline,” he said.

He warned the absence of spatial planning would damage the environment and put the population at risk, such as in Kalimantan where mining companies posed serious environmental threats.

Experts said that regional autonomy had sped up the changes on spatial planning and forced the massive conversion of forests for commercial use.

Data from the Forestry Ministry showed the rate of deforestation between 1998 and 2000 reached 2.8 million hectares per year.

Currently, the rate of deforestation is about 1.08 million hectares per year, claimed by environmental activists to be the highest rate in the world.

Data from the ministry shows the total area of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations jumped to 6.1 million hectares in 2006 from only 1.1 million hectares in 1990. The 1999 Forestry Law stipulates the forestry ministry has the authority to issue forest-conversion permits, after obtaining consent from the House.