Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jakarta poaches on farmland waters

Kafil Yamin in IPS: The 18,000 litres of clean water that Jakarta consumes per second are expected to hit 26,000 litres by 2015. The solution? A 54-km stretch of toll road cut through prime paddy land to access the water resources of this salubrious hill district. Jakarta’s administrators expect the capital city to be a show window for its efforts in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including those for water supply and sanitation.

The government, by stated policy, is looking to private-public partnerships (PPP) to come up with solutions. For their part, water companies like PT PAM Jaya - which predict a 44 percent increase in Jakarta’s water demand by 2015 - want relaxed rules on water projects.

But, a conflict over water resources is emerging between local people in Sukabumi (translates as Happy Land in Sundanese) on one side and water companies with contracts to supply water to Jakarta on the other.

Trucks fetching sparkling mountain water may help quench the thirst of Jakarta’s 10 million people but little thought has been given to rice cultivation on 2,700 sq km of land that must be sacrificed for the project, or the future of the 2.7 million residents of Sukabumi district.

Located at a cloud-kissing altitude of 600 metres, that gives it a cool 25 degrees Celsius average temperature, Sukabumi was favoured by the colonial Dutch to locate important institutions. Today Sukabumi boasts ecotourism activities like whitewater rafting and wildlife watching...

A geyser in Sukabumi, around 1921, from the Tropenmuseum

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