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In a Holding Pattern Over North Bali

North Bali Airport Project Remains in Doubt

(9/23/2013) Uncertainty surrounds plans for North Bali Airport with NusaBali reporting that the Buleleng Group lobbying for the new Bali air gateway is in partial disarray following the retirement of the chief of the provincial Transportation – Information –Communication Office who served as the chairman of the group.

Dewa Punia Asa's recent retirement has seen the North Bali Airport Group left without its Captain, with requests for Asa to remain on in an advisory capacity thus far unanswered.

The Provincial Secretary for Bali Tjokorda Ngurah Pemayun told the press that Bali awaits the results of a feasibility study and a decision from the Ministry of Transportation specifying the ideal North Bali location for the new airport.

The chairman of commission III of the Bali House of Representatives (DPR), I Gusti Ngurah Suryanta, said that the North Bali Airport is slated for discussion and inclusion in the 2014 Provincial Budget for Bali (APBD). At the same time, Suryanta added: “Technical matters and air safety are the business of the Director General of Civil Aviation. We only prepare the location for the airport. We are waiting for a decision from the Central Government.”

NusaBali reports that residents of Sumberkima Village are expressing doubts that their area will meet the safety and flight operations requirements of aviation authorities selecting the location for the proposed airport.

A Sumberkima resident said: “It looks 80% sure that the Buleleng Airport project will be abandoned. The location of the proposed airport in Buleleng cannot be forced in matters concerning air safety. The information is that Sumberkima Village in West Buleleng and Kutambahan Village in East Buleleng have both been ruled out as not viable from an air safety standpoint."

The unnamed source said his information was received directly from those involved in planning the proposed airport. He added, “I don’t know if this information is just to slow down land speculators or if, in fact, both areas are unsuitable for an airport’s location in Buleleng.”

Separately a contractor from North Bali confirmed to NusaBali that property prices are doubling in certain areas of Bulelelng with agents and land speculators working hard to make a windfall profit from the proposed new airfield.

Both proposed locations in Buleleng are proving problematic as sites for a second major Bali airport.

The West Buleleng location of Sumberkima Village has raised issues of air safety and concerns that the need to reclaim land for the runway would be opposed by many in the community. However, in favor of the West Buleleng location is the fact that the provincial government owns a 650-hectare plot of land at the proposed location that will make land acquisition less of a problem. This location would also only require 4 religious temples to be relocated and minimize the need to relocate current residents.

Meanwhile the East Buleleng location at Kubutambahan, aside from any potential air safety issues, would require the relocation of thousands of households and at least 14 religious temples.

If, however, aviation authorities rule both locations unsuitable from an air safety standpoint, other matters relating to land acquisition for the new airport become instantly moot.

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