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How Peasants Become Landless

North Bali Farmers Suffering Culture Shock as Speculators Prey on Ancestral Land Holdings

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, Buleleng, North Bali, Airport, Putu Ngurah Wirawan, land speculation, Widiastra, Tamblang, Nengah Sudharsana, Lombok, Kubutambahan, Gerokgak, marginalization
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Bali Daily (The Jakarta Post) reports a village head in the Kubutambahan District of North Bali is expressing concerns that the planned development of a new airport in his area will be socially disruptive on the lives of the people living in his village of Tamblang.

I Nengah Sudharsana, the village chef who also holds a university degree in agricultural studies, said: “Of course, I have to support the government program to develop a new international airport in Buleleng. But Tamblang village is located less than 10 kilometers from the designated location. We don’t want the project to affect our lives here in a negative way.”

Tamblang village is a traditional farming village prosperously producing rice, cloves, coffee cacao and tropical fruits. The village is home to 8,200 residents working primarily in agricultural pursuits.

Sudharsana said news of the proposed airport in North Bali has brought property agents and land speculators trying to persuade villagers to abandon their ancestral lands to outside investors.

The prices being offered are ten times the normal price for agricultural lands, according to Widiastra, a local landowner. Viewing the airport as a political commodity leading up to this year’s elections, Widiastra has thus far refused offers to sell his family’s lands.

Other land owners in the north of Bali have, however, succumbed to the high prices being paid for land and sold their lands.

The proposed airport, to be located in either east of west Buleleng, will require 3,000 hectares of land.

A development expert from Bali, AA Putu Ngurah Wirawan warns of the social disruption that will result from the new airport, saying, “The development of an international airport in one of the old villages in Buleleng will likely shake the present social and cultural condition of the agricultural society.”

He points to the development of a new international airport in nearby Lombok, which he says has resulted in the marginalization of local landowners surrounding the new aerodrome.

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