Green light for Benoa Bay development
Despite protests from the tourist industry, academics and activists, the Bali provincial administration and legislative council have allegedly given the green light to PT Tirta Wahana Bali International to develop Benoa Bay.
The approval is contained in gubernatorial letter No. 2138/02-C/HK/2012, issued on Dec. 26, 2012. Governor Made Mangku Pastika signed the letter months before he was re-elected in May.
The letter states that PT Tirta Wahana Bali International had been issued a permit and the right to utilize, develop and manage the Benoa Bay area. The letter also reveals that the company was granted management of 838 hectares with a 30-year concession and the possibility of an additional 20-year extension.
The letter also states that the permit would be reviewed if the company failed to start the land reclamation within five years.
Attachments to the letter include a feasibility study from Udayana University’s Community Research Center and a recommendation letter issued by Bali Legislative Council, which states that the development of Benoa Bay would not cause any environmental damage and would protect Bali from possible tsunami threat.
The public finally found out about the letter issued by the provincial administration and legislative council after a member of the legislative council made an abrupt interruption during Monday’s plenary meeting.
Ketut Kariyasa Adnyana, a council member, interrupted the plenary meeting between the governor and legislators asking about the letter giving a permit and rights to PT Tirta Wahana.
Shocked and unprepared for the question, council speaker AAN Oka Ratmadi decided to adjourn the meeting and call a closed-door meeting with Pastika.
Earlier reports were claiming that four major investors were competing to develop enormous tourism projects in Benoa Bay, but were having to wait patiently for approval. The four investors are PT Tirta Wahana Bali International, PT Bangun Segitiga Mas, PT Wijaya Property and PT Garuda Jaya.
The huge reclamation project at Benoa Bay planned by PT Tirta Wahana Bali International would see development of luxury tourist facilities, including a Disneyland-like theme park, apartments, hotels, villas, an international hospital, and entertainment centers.
The letter issuing the permit to PT Tirta Wahana has been circulated among local journalists.
“The letter exists but is intended to conduct a feasibility study,” Ratmadi explained, while refusing to elaborate on the content.
Pastika also admitted to issuing the letter. “Just ask the council’s speaker for details,” Pastika stated.
Previously, Pastika insisted that he would discuss the proposals with experts in the environment and customary laws, as well as academics, before issuing any permit to investors.
He has, however, frequently said that land reclamation at Benoa Bay was better than developing tourist facilities on fertile land.
Cokorda Ngurah Pemayun, secretary of the Bali administration, strongly denied that the letter issued permits to PT Tirta Wahana.
The letter only stated that the investor may conduct feasibility studies on the development of Benoa. There were no statements that said that the investor had been granted permission and rights to start reclaiming and developing Benoa Bay for tourist and entertainment sites, Pemayun confirmed.
“There will be a lot of documents needed before the investor can develop and reclaim the area,” he added.