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Balancing Modernity and Balinese Culture

Boldly Challenging Cultural Trends, Governor Proposes Raising Height Restrictions, and Building Expressways and Tunnels to Help Bali Face the Future.

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At a recent provincial planning meeting held on Saturday, December 20, 2008, Bali's governor boldly floated the idea of revamping regulations with prohibit buildings of more than 15 meters in height.

Following a presentation by the Chief of the Provincial Planning Board (Bappenda), Made Subagiarta, the Island's Chief Executive bemoaned the rampant loss of surface land in Bali. Calling the loss of hundreds of hectare of land every year as "extremely crazy," he cited the current limitation on building height to only 15 meters as a major factor in the depletion of surface lands.

Quoted in Radar Bali, Pastika said that by increasing the permissible height of buildings a more economical use of the ever-diminishing amount of land in Bali would be achieved. To illustrate his argument, Governor Pastika said that if a building of 1 hectare's size were allowed two sub-ground levels and 10 above ground levels, some 11-12 hectares of land usage would be preserved.

The governor said he found it hard to understand why buildings are limited to 15 meters in height in Bali, pointing to the Grand Bali Beach Hotel with has 11 stories and, according to the governor, causes no problem.

The current rule limited buildings to 15 meters or "the height of a coconut tree" have their links to the public outcry that occurred when the Grand Bali Beach Hotel was opened in the mid 1960s.

Governor Pastika also used the occasion to openly explore how Bali can answer the problem of growing traffic congestion. Despite widespread opposition from local cultural and religious groups, Pastika said that traffic congestions and land usage issues would be assisted by the introduction of suspended highways and underpasses.

Responding to traditionalist Hindu elements who object to the idea of "unclean individuals" or "unclean acts" taking place above their heads, Pastika challenged: "If elevated highways are unacceptable, consider airplanes flying overhead where people are defecating and which sometime carry dead bodies, so what's the problem?"

Pastika went on to blame the Governor's decree No. 15 of 1988 which he feels limits tourism development to three regencies/cities. This policy was introduced to preserve the other areas of Bali from the negative effects of tourism. Insisting that times have changed, Pastika said steps are needed to provide economic opportunities for the people living in West Bali, North Bali , East Bali and Central Bali.

Radar Bali said that there are many potential tourism investors eagerly waiting for a change in the height limitation building code.

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