Some Indonesians fear eviction as new capital takes form

4 min read
some indonesians fear eviction as new capital takes form

As Indonesia’s future capital, Nusantara, in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo awaits construction completion and prepares to welcome its first residents within a few months, some nearby villagers have expressed concerns over eviction or displacement without compensation.

Farmer Pandi from the village of Sepaku about 20 km away had a rude surprise earlier this year when stakes appeared on his land. A few yellow pieces of cloth carrying the words “development boundary” were attached to the stakes. Residents were undoubtedly shocked.

For Indonesians living near Nusantara, the lack of information has been stocking fears of possible discriminatory changes. So far, there has been no discussion on compensation, with villagers resisting the prospect of relocation by displaying banners, Pandi said.

Nusantara Billed As Indonesia’s First Carbon-Neutral City

Over in Pemaluan village about 13 km from the new capital city, rubber farmer Jubaen is worried about the construction of a toll road connecting Nusantara and Balikpapan, fearing the project could affect his six-hectare plantation. He is confused amid no talk of compensation in sight.

“If [the authorities] want to continue the … city’s development, please go ahead,” Pandi added. This is a sentiment shared by some netizens who are looking forward to the government’s execution of the project. But “please give us clear [legal rights] over the land,” the farmer noted.

Billed as the country’s first carbon-neutral city, the first phase of Nusantara is expected to be ready by August 17, 2024, when Indonesia marks its Independence Day. It could comprise basic infrastructure including roads and housing, a few ministries’ premises and the palace.

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Nusantara Expected To Ease The Load On Jakarta

The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2045, when Indonesians shall commemorate 100 years of the country’s proclamation of independence in 1945. Meanwhile, authorities keep saying they are aware of the villagers’ concerns about compensation and will address them.

Nusantara is expected to ease the load on the current capital, Jakarta on the island of Java, a metropolis of 10 million people grappling with crowding, pollution and sinking. 65% of the area will be reforested. However, critics have highlighted a string of issues.

They have expressed concerns over the lack of consultation and the environmental and financial cost of building the new city. Some stress the estimated $33 billion needed for construction should be used instead to rehabilitate cities such as Surabaya and Jakarta.

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