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The new capital of Indonesia – the greenest in the world?

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Status: 08/01/2022 05:26

Indonesia has a new capital: Nusantara. It aims to be the greenest and most sustainable city in the world. But there are also doubts: the danger to the environment should not be underestimated, say the locals.

By Lena Bodewein, ARD Studio Singapore

A blue cube, a golden circular plate above, a warning: do not damage, do not remove, otherwise 500 million rupees – or 30,000 euros – fine. The Titik Nol – translated “ground zero”, in German probably the foundation stone – of the new capital of Indonesia. Huge white letters are fixed above the square round point zero: “Titik Nol Nusantara” is there.

The new capital will be called Nusantara – “archipelago” – just as Indonesia is a huge archipelago of 17,000 islands. Other than the blue cube and white writing, not much can be seen, but the “zero point” is a popular photo motif for Indonesians who like to take selfies, and visitors who pose are well guarded by the army and the secret services.

reforestation and urban development

Here, in East Kalimantan, as the Indonesian part of the huge island of Borneo is called, many trees are still felled. Loggers carry log after log. But it is not a tropical forest that must give way, but eucalyptus plantations.

Sidik Pramono, communications manager for the capital project, explains the big goal. Urban planning provides that 75% of the 256,000 hectares of land be green: “So it’s not at all about deforestation, but on the contrary about the opportunity to reforest the tropical forest”, he says.

The idea, which should calm all opponents: Nusantara should become the greenest and most sustainable city in the world.

Exit the Juggernaut of Jarkarta

The seat of government is supposed to emerge from the congested, sinking juggernaut Jakarta. Parts of the current capital are sinking up to 25 centimeters a year, in marshy ground and under their own weight.

President Joko Widodo, says Jokowi, will only be in office until 2024. Truly turning the decades-old idea of ​​a new capital into reality – that’s what he wants to be able to boast about.

Sidik Pramono explains that the preparation phase now focuses on basic infrastructure for logistical access. Construction of the office building at the Government Center is expected to begin in August. And they are working on a dam for water supply. The water supply is particularly important – especially after the shortage in Jakarta, where illegal water abstraction is causing the city to sink further.

Site manager Irene Lucas stands at the gigantic construction site of the Sepaku Semoi Dam. It is dredged up, searched, secured – at a brisk pace. “Our goal is to have the dam ready by September. September next year? This year! Crazy, isn’t it?” she asks.

A dam is being built to provide water: the Sepaku Semoi dam.

Image: Lena Bodewein, ARD Singapore

Trees for the green city

The dam should be full at the end of 2023. In the meantime, not far from the site, what the roots will give will be planted: in the Persemaian Mentawir, the Mentawir nursery. High in the green hills with a pleasant climate, Mohammad Yussuf watches over the future splendor of the most sustainable city in the world.

Yussuf says, “There will be two million seedlings this year. We grow them here and then they can be planted on the site of the new capital. These are all species native to Kalimantan.

Some trees can be up to a hundred years old; future giant trees are only knee high, and the nursery site is still being expanded – with infrastructure such as laboratories, a prayer house, accommodation for gardeners, so that the 20 million saplings needed per year can be grown.

However, there is already a helipad. Because not only the politicians come to advance the project, but also the financiers of the mega-project. In August, says Yussuf, Jokowi will make his next trip with Arab visitors – potential investors.

Two million seedlings are grown and the trees will then be planted on the site of the new capital.

Image: Lena Bodewein, ARD Singapore

Consequences for wildlife

Parts of the project — basic infrastructure, for example — will be funded from the state budget, Pramono says. But this is clearly not a burden, but an investment. And that then serves to attract investors. It allays concerns that China – like many other Southeast Asian countries – will gain power through large-scale factories. There are framework conditions to be respected.

For many, the step here is clearly an investment in the future that promises much. Others express more concern. Ibu Renie is from the Orangutan Foundation International, a foundation that has worked in this part of Borneo for many decades. She says the relocation of the capital will certainly have an impact on the environment, especially for orangutans and other wildlife:

They will lose the forest because their habitat and the space for their movements will be reduced, their fodder trees will be lost, they will find less food.

Because even if Nusantara becomes a green city, the trees the orangutans need won’t grow there. And even when planning includes corridors and barriers, it’s hard to tell wild animals how to move. So there should definitely be wildlife rescue teams in the new capital that are ready to go at any time.

Renee says:Because that is also what this concept of Forest City means. The city is connected to nature, it wants to protect animals and natural resources – that’s why orangutans and other wild animals must not be endangered at any time.”

Another huge construction site, Nusantara is set to become the “ten-minute city” later – for quick accessibility.

Image: Lena Bodewein, ARD Singapore

“City ten minutes” from short distances

Forest city, forest city, smart city, green city, most sustainable city – Nusantara has many titles. And there is another: an important aspect of sustainability is the idea of ​​the “city in ten minutes”, explains Dyah Fatma, one of the consulting architects of the first planning phase.

She explains, “Our goal is for all residents to be able to reach their most important touchpoints in five to ten minutes.” So you should be able to quickly get to work, school, the supermarket or the doctor by bike or on foot. “And we’re trying to build the development densely enough that public transport covers everything.”

Fatma is proud to be part of this project. But his colleague Tiyok also expresses doubts: “It’s already a fragile ecosystem if you look at it from an environmental perspective, so you can’t just state your intention and start building.”

Nusantara should be finished by 2045, and two million people should have a new home by then – in the most sustainable city in the world.

Tiyok says it’s a historic project for Indonesia that could lead the country to greatness or ruin. This could prove that Indonesia takes sustainability seriously. Or continue as usual. Indonesia’s new capital is an opportunity – and a threat.

Indonesia’s new capital in Borneo – opportunity and danger

Lena Bodewein, ARD Singapore, 27.7.2022 10:09 a.m.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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