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Baliís Need for a Zone Defense

Leading Academician Say Only a Firm and Impartial Application of Zoning Regulations Can Reverse the Growing Marginalization of the Balinese People

(5/13/2012) The Dean of the Technical Faculty at Bali’s Warmadewa University, Dr. Ir. I. Wayan Parwata fears that Bali’s leaders may be unable to put a halt on the rapid diversion of land use, fearing the current land rush is getting out of control.

Parwata estimates that at least 1,000 hectare of productive agricultural land is lost to the construction of dwellings, tourist facilities and other structures each year.

As reported by Bali Post, Parwata accused Bali’s leaders of continuing to sell off land assets in underhanded ways resulting in an ever-increasing marginalization of the Balinese people in their own homeland.

Saying that for several years the diversion of Bali land from agricultural pursuits to other purposes has reached an average of 1,000 hectares per year, Parwata says a more ideal average would be between 200-250 hectares per annum.

He went on to outline how the changeover of land from agriculture to housing development is the highest trend at the moment. Breaking down the figures further, the academician said 69.7% of land diversion is going to housing and public uses, 9.8% to industrial purposes and 17.3% to business and tourism pursuits.

Parwata said the rapid change of land use in Bali is caused by a number of factors. Among the chief root causes of this shift is the weak regulatory control exercised by the government. While the executive and legislative branches of government in Bali have established zoning and land use laws, these regulations are either ignored or changed to meet the wishes of vested interests. The consumptive nature of the general public has also fueled the rapid rate of change. Finally, he added, there is the increasing number of new infrastructure projects allowed to proceed under unclear, loose and ill-defined rules - a fact that is used by developers in an irresponsible manner.

In the mad rush to acquire agricultural lands and alter its function, the leaders of Bali are largely powerless to stop those manipulating zoning and building regulations. The end result is that Bali is becoming increasingly mismanaged. Experts on zoning are gathered together primarily to satisfy the demands of a “bourgeoisie government.”

Pawrwata accused Bali’s leaders of only accommodating the interests and wishes of investors, paving the way for them to control the remaining pieces of Balinese real estate still suitable for productive agriculture and turn those lands to commercial purposes.

The chairman of the Tri Hita Karana Bali Foundation is calling on Bali’s leaders to stop selling off native lands in underhanded fashion and causing the further marginalization of the people of Bali.

“The development of Bali must be focused and have a positive effect for the common people. Don’t let Bali’s future development only profit investors,” he demanded.

The professor said that in order to overcome the current disordered state of Bali’s development planning and the diversion of aricultural lands, Bali’s leaders need to have a comprehensive understanding of zoning rules and apply those laws consistently.

“Bali’s leader must be able to control and monitor regulations determining that which is permitted and that which is not,” he added.