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The capital of Indonesia is sinking, polluted, and now moving
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The capital of Indonesia is sinking, polluted, and now moving

Jakarta is congested and polluted. It is also prone to earthquakes. The government is now moving the capital of the country to Borneo. President Joko Widodo sees the construction a new capital as a solution to Jakarta’s problems. It will also reduce Jakarta’s population and allow the country to start over with a sustainable city with good public transportation, integrated with the natural environment, and is not vulnerable to natural disasters.

Widodo stressed that the construction and moving of the capital city is more than just a physical relocation of government offices. The main goal of the project is to create a smart and competitive new city. It will also help to build a new locomotive that will propel Indonesia toward a green economy. Skeptics are concerned about the impact on the environment of razing a sprawling 256,000-hectare (990-mile) city in Borneo’s East Kalimantan Province. This area is home to leopards, orangutans, and other wildlife. In the midst of a global pandemic, USD 34 billion has been committed to the ambitious project. Dwi Sawung, an official from the WALHI environmental group, stated that the new capital city’s strategic environment study has revealed at least three fundamental problems.

She stated that there are risks to water systems, climate change, threats and flora and fauna, as well as threats to pollution and environmental damage.

Widodo’s plan for Nusantara, an old Javanese term that means archipelago, was first proposed in 2019. It will involve building housing and government buildings from scratch. Initial estimates indicated that 1.5 million civil servants would relocate to the city, located approximately 2,000 kilometers northeast from Jakarta. However, ministries and government agencies continue to work to finalize this number.

It will be found in the vicinity Balikpapan (East Kalimantan’s seaport) with a population around 700,000. The country is an archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands. However, 54% of Indonesia’s over 270 million inhabitants live on Java, which is the country’s most densely populated and where Jakarta is.

Jakarta is home for approximately 10 million people. The greater metropolitan area has three times that many. It is known as the most rapidly sinking urban area in the world. At the current rate, the city could be submerged up to one-third by 2050. Uncontrolled groundwater extraction is the main cause, but it has been exacerbated due to rising Java Sea as a result of climate change.

Additionally, the ground water and air are polluted. The economy is subject to frequent flooding and congestion that costs USD 4.5 billion annually.

Indonesia will follow the same path as other countries in building a capital purpose-built.

Abu Dhabi’s crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the chairman of the construction committee. He is no stranger in ambitious building projects in the United Arab Emirates. The committee also includes Masayoshi, the billionaire founder and chief executive at Japanese holding company SoftBank and former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, who currently runs and oversees the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

19% of the project will be paid for by the state. The rest will be funded by cooperation between the government, business entities, and direct investment from the state-run enterprises and the private sectors.

Basuki Hadimuljono, Public Works and Housing Minister, stated that initial planning was completed by clearing 56,180 hectares (138.800 acres) of land for the presidential palace, national parliament and government offices. There are also roads linking the capital with other cities in East Kalimantan.

Hadimulijono stated that the goal is to complete the core government area by 2024. The current plans call for around 8,000 civil servants in the city to have moved by then. Widodo stated that he expected the Presidential Palace to be moved to the new capital before he finishes his second term in 2024. The entire relocation process is expected to be completed by 2045.

It is not clear what impact it will have on Jakarta or the people who remain behind, said Agus Paambagio, a public-policy expert from the University of Indonesia. He suggested that anthropologists be brought in to study the issue. He said that there will be significant social changes for civil servants and society in general, as well as local residents.

(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.

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