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Environmental Equity in Bali

Bangli Regent Call for Social Justice in the Way Water Catchment Areas are Compensated in Bali

Bangli, in the mountain-lake district of Bali, plays a central role in the freshwater supply of the Island. Ironically, Bangli receives a scant share of the tremendous wealth and income generated by Bali’s tourism industry despite acting as a geographical source of the river system that generates most of the water supply for South Bali. Adding to this irony, people living in Bangli continue to encounter problems in water supply from its bountiful river system to their relatively nearby individual places of residence.

As reported by Balipost.com, in order to preserve the source of the critically important water supply for Bali the Provincial Government of Bali has designated Bangli as an official conservation zone.

As head of the water conservation and environmental buffer zone of the Island, Bali’s Regent I Made Gianyar has put his Regency in a controversial position via his recent threats to blockade and even pollute local lakes and riverways in order to obtain needed attention and compensation from those parts of Bali’s who depend on water supplies sourced from his Regency.

Underlining his call for fair treatment for the Regency of Bangli, Made Gianyar warns that development projects must be controlled and limited, he points to the Bali-Hindu doctrine of Tri Hita Karana maintain than mandates balance be maintained in the natural and spiritual environment, adding: "In Hinduism we are familiar with the concept of ‘Tri Hita Karana’ as it is applied to upstream and downstream areas and all of the mountains that have been passed on from our ancestors . . .  If the natural resources are exploited and converted upstream, the water flow will decrease and the water resources will disappear.”

The Regent of Bangli said his constituents know of their obligation to preserve the natural environment and safeguard freshwater resources, but, at the same time, reminded that the Province as a whole must ensure that those living in Bangli and other areas must also benefit in the allocation of tax revenues and other economic benefits derived from Bali’s tourism industry. Made Gianyar insisted that the people of Bangli receive an inequitable share of taxation revenues reaped from tourism while voluntarily foregoing the more direct benefits that they would directly derive from allowing environmentally threatening hotels and resorts to be built along the essential watershed areas of shores of Bangli's lakes and riverways.

Obviously displeased, Made Gianyar said, “Recently when jungles caught fire in Bangli, local people worked side-by-side to extinguished these fires to save forest cover and ensure that local water reserves were not put at threat. But what have the people of Bangli received for their sacrifice?”

Regent Made Gianyar called for a greater understanding of the role played by Bangli in ensuring Bali has freshwater and clean air and not only view the people of Bangli as “beggars” who are constantly asking for money from other regions of Bali.

Fueling the current disaffection felt in Bangli was a decision by the governments of Badung, Gianyar, and Denpasar to end or substantially reduce the past share paid from hotel and restaurant tax revenues allocated to Bangli.

Bangli officials say sharing tax revenue from Bali’s prosperous hotel and restaurant sector is needed to maintain goodwill in the Regency of Bangli and ensure continuing efforts to build dams and reduce sedimentation at Lake Batur continue unabated.

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