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Save Our Swamps!

Environmentalist Suit Against Bali Governor Commences in Mangrove Forest Protection Case

(2/8/2013) Bali Post reports that the suit by the Bali Friends of the Earth (WALHI) against the governor of Bali has begun to be heard in open court.

That suite charges that the governor acted illegally and outside the public interest when he granted a permit to PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari to operate a tourism business on 102.22 hectares of mangrove jungle surround Bali’s southern shoreline in the government-owned Taman Hutan Raya (Tahura) Ngurah Rai.

At the initial court hearing on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, WALHI was represented by a tem of ten lawyers while the governor and the province employed a legal team of three. The presiding judge, Budi Santoso, set the agenda for the opening session calling for a reading of the accusation against the governor and the province followed by the government’s response. Despite having received the summons of the court on January 28th, the province’s legal team declared they were not yet prepared to enter a formal response before the court.

Simon Nahak, a lawyer for the defense, said: “Because we have only received an power of attorney this morning we have not yet had the opportunity to examine the complaint from the plaintiffs. But we will try by next week to give our formal response.”

Meanwhile, WALHI modified itsl complaint during the hearing. WALHI now contends that the province also violated Presidential Instruction Number 10 of 2011 that specifically calls for delays in granting new use permits on primary forest areas until such a time as management of these areas can be improved.

Edmunus Wahyu Indrawan, a lawyer for WALHI, told the court that the Presidential Instruction forbids the governor from issuing new permits on primary forested lands. The Presidential decree is further strengthened by a decision issued by the Forestry Minister that included the mangrove area as exempted area from new use permits.

WALHI is also complaining that the Governor has also violated a 2009 law on conservation and environmental management; violated the law on forestry conservation; and participated in “bad governance” in the way the permit was issued to a private enterprise.

PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari – the party issued the mangrove use permit by the Governor declined to attend the court hearing.

The court case will reconvene on February 13, 2013.