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Are VVIP Visitors More Important Than Heritage?

Helipad Installed at UNESCO Jatiluwih Threatens World Heritage Status in West Bali .

The Director of Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy at Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, Nadjamuddin Ramly, warned from Jakarta on Monday, April 15, 2019, that the creation of a helipad at Jatiluwih could threaten the area's status as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“The development of a helipad in the middle of the rice terraces is a total mistake,” warned Ramly. “We ask for conscientiousness from the Regent of Tabanan to restore the rice terraces to its original state. What has been done has destroyed the original heritage and purpose of the rice terrace.”

NusaBali reports that Ramly went on to explain that subaks are ancient community-based organizations that supervise water distribution on rice terraces in Bali. Continuing, he said that because the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces have been declared a World Heritage Site they will undergo regular re-evalutaions by UNESCO.

Among the areas reviewed by UNESCO will be the ability to protect and retain the original nature of the site. The presence of a helipad makes Ramly concerned that auditors will declared Jatiluwih no longer authentic and place it on the “red warning list” from which it could eventually lose its World Heritage Status if it is not returned to its original status.

Ramly said the Ministry of Education and Culture has formally sent a letter to the Regent of Tabanan requesting the helipad be demolished and the area returned to rice terrace. He said the building of the helipad has already broken to laws on protecting Cultural Conservation Sites (UU Cagar Budaya) and the Agricultural Laws.

The official warned that if these warnings continued to be ignored, his Ministry would report the matter to the Provincial Governor. UNESCO declared the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces a World Heritage Site in 2012.  Nadjamuddin reminded all concerned that it was, in fact, the Province of Bali that originally proposed the area as a World Heritage Site. Adding, “Such a proposal demands commitment and an understanding from the Government and local residents of the responsibility to preserve and protect the World Heritage Site.”

Nadjamuddin is also of the opinion that the regional government must guarantee the welfare of the people owning the rice terraces comprising the World Heritage Site.  “Economic pressures make the rice terrace owners nervous as they are not allowed to sell their rice fields. There must be a commitment from province to allocate funds from the Annual Budget to provide for the welfare of the landowners,” he said.

As reported previously, the management of the Jatiluwih Tourism Complex decided to build a helipad within the Subak Jatiluwih Comlex at Kalung, Penebel, Tabanan. The helipad is intended to serve VVIP visitors to Jatiluwih. The Complex managers entered into a cooperative agreement with Air Bali to create a helipad at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on a trial basis.

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