Developer, residents work together to create flood-free housing estate

Developer, residents work together to create flood-free housing estate

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

It is little wonder that many people, especially environmentalists, have blamed out-of-control development for Jakarta’s devastating February floods.

Riverbanks, rice fields, swamps, orchards and even lakes around the city, all of which function as water catchments, have been covered over with concrete.

To avoid flooding and to preserve water catchment areas, the satellite city of Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) in Tangerang has been furnished with hectares of green space and numerous small lakes.

The initiative has been supported by local residents, who have experienced a growth in their own environmental awareness.

“Alone we can’t stop environmental damage … we have to work hand in hand with the developer of housing here,” Antonius, a resident, said last week.

The father of two said that rather than building a large number of shop-houses in spite of low occupancy rates, the developer, PT BSD, provided space for the much-needed greening program.

“As a result, we’re safe from flooding,” he said.

The satellite city has shopping areas, a traditional market, entertainment and family recreation facilities as well as schools, a hospital and a sports center.

The developer has built two public parks, Hutan Kota I and Hutan Kota II.

The first park, the name of which means “city forest”, sits in the heart of the satellite city and occupies 3 hectares of land. The second park occupies 9 hectares of land around an artificial lake.

A spokesman for PT BSD, Dhony Rahajoe, said the company made its spatial plan back in 1998, when construction of the area started.

“What needs to be considered in keeping a city’s sustainability is how to integrate the commercial centers and cultural life of the community with an environmentally friendly vision. This was what came into our minds before we started the construction of this 6,000 hectare satellite city,” he said.

“We were aware of flood risks that would likely face the city in the future so we applied an integrated environmental management approach in cooperation with the local administration.”

The satellite city also has a 75 hectare golf course on an abandoned sand mining site and 11 artificial lakes.

Dhony argued that, based on the company’s studies, lakes were more effective than drains for water catchment.

“The maintenance of lakes is much easier and cheaper,” he said.

To enable water to flow smoothly out of the city, BSD improved the drainage system by widening, straightening and deepening existing waterways.

Along with residents, the developer also holds a tree-planting program, which commenced in 2003, as well as the annual Green Festival.

“Reducing water catchments, covering riverbanks with concrete (and) throwing trash into rivers are real examples of activities that damage the environment. That’s why society has to work together on this,” Dhony said.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailcity.asp?fileid=20070607.D06&irec=5

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