The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) finally filed a lawsuit at the Denpasar State Administrative Court (PTUN) against Bali’s governor on Wednesday, saying that the governor had illegally issued a permit to manage 102.2 hectares of mangrove forest in the Suwung area of Denpasar to a private company.
In their lawsuit, Walhi intends to force the governor to revoke the permit issued to PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari, which was granted the right to manage the mangrove forest for 55 years.
“We’ve seen that governor did not provide an immediate response to our legal notification. Therefore, Walhi decided to appoint 10 lawyers to sue the governor. The goal of the lawsuit is to force the governor to revoke the permit granted to PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari,” Wayan Gendo Suardana, chairman of Walhi’s Bali chapter told journalists after submitting the lawsuit at PTUN Denpasar on Wednesday morning.
The 55-page lawsuit stated that Governor Made Mangku Pastika had violated a number of laws, including Law No. 5/1990 on the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, Law No. 32/2009 on the protection and management of the environment, and Law No. 28/1999 on corruption.
Gendo said that Pastika had issued the permit ignoring the basic principles of environment as regulated by the environment law. He said that Pastika should also consider that the mangrove forests were needed to control seawater intrusion and to reduce pollutants and maintain the quality of the seawater, in addition to considering the legal principles.
“He also violated good governance principles, as he violated his own policy of the new hotel moratorium in south Bali,” Gendo said.
Ketut Oka Astawa from PTUN Denpasar officially received the lawsuit. The registration number is 01/G/2013/PTUN.Dps.
The permit being disputed was issued in June. The local administration agency tasked with managing that tract admitted it lacked sufficient funds and manpower to deal with the garbage and decaying infrastructure. The tract is part of south Bali’s 1,375 hectares of mangrove forest reserve.
The permit and plans have triggered strong opposition from environmentalists and local councilors, who suggested the investor would destroy the forest. Some rallies against the governor’s policy have been staged by various environmental and community organizations.
Prior to officially suing the governor, Walhi had submitted two letters of legal notification. The notifications insisted the governor revoke the permit issued to PT Tirta Rahmat Bahari. Signed by Walhi’s national secretary, Kholisah, in December 2012, the notifications were also submitted to the President, the Forestry Ministry, the Environment Ministry and the Indonesian Ombudsman. However, Pastika had offered no official response.
Responding to Walhi’s legal action, Pastika said it was a positive effort.
“In my opinion, Walhi’s legal suit demonstrates a mature and elegant way of expressing the voice of groups and the people. We don’t have to bicker with each other. I really appreciate Walhi’s legal action,” Pastika told journalists in his office.
However, Pastika has strongly denied that he ignored Walhi’s previous legal notifications. He admitted that he didn’t write a letter to respond to the notifications. But his administration had invited Walhi to discuss its demands. Unfortunately, Walhi could not show their legal grounds to declare that the permit was illegal.
“We could be wrong, as we are only human. If they could prove that we are wrong, we are ready to revoke the permit. But if the court later proves that the permit was correct, they should understand that it [the mangrove concession plan] should continue,” Pastika said.
by Ni Komang Erviani on 2013-01-03