‘Govt violates its own regulation on land use’
City News – March 12, 2007

The huge floods that inundated the capital early last month have drawn concerns from various quarters over the poor flood prevention measures taken by both the public and the city’s administration. Following the disaster, the State Ministry for the Environment has begun the hard work of campaigning among the public for the use of percolation pits, a crucial tool used to harvest rainwater, which in turn can reduce the risk of future floods. The Jakarta Post asked several people for their thoughts on the issue.

Indra, 36, is a musician living in Rawasari, Central Jakarta:

I know that there is a bylaw regulating the use of land and that people can only use a certain percentage of their land for buildings, while the rest must remain as green space. The proportion of building sites and open space sites varies from one region to other.

But the fact is that almost 100 percent of the land is occupied by buildings.

Therefore, I doubt this new regulation about percolation pits will work because the government didn’t put the previous law into effect. Also, they are not consistent.

Why do they talk about percolation pits if they cement all of the pedestrian pathways on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin, for example. If a one cubic meter pit can catch one cubic meter of water, how much water could have been caught by the pathways along the roads if they had not been cemented? That is why Jakarta’s streets are always flooded during the rainy season.

This means that the government has violated its own regulation.

This campaign will only amount to jargon if the administration is not consistent in putting any laws into action.

Endy Purwanto, 46, works in the media. He lives in Palmerah Barat, Central Jakarta:

I think the colonial Dutch administration was more serious than our government in considering water catchment areas, including providing percolation pits. They were more aware of the impact of having no water-absorbing areas than our own people.

But that is always the case anywhere in the world when the authorities are too late in preventing disasters.

Having one well in every household is a good idea, but it creates a new problem because people then need to make an extra investment. The government should be responsible for this expense.

Giving away subsidies to every household will also crack open the opportunity for corruption.

If the initiative is run through a labor-intensive program, it might reduce the possibility of corruption. Perhaps groups of house owners can jointly build their percolation pits.

–The Jakarta Post