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Buyan Lake plan rejected
February 2nd, 2009

Ni Komang Erviani ,  The Jakata Post ,  Denpasar   |  Sat, 01/31/2009 1:20 PM  |  Bali

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika announced Friday that he had rejected an investment offer from PT Anantara to develop Lake Buyan in Buleleng into an eco-tourism resort.

“I have rejected PT Anantara’s request to develop Lake Buyan. I signed the rejection papers on Friday,” he said during a meeting with the Forum for the Protection of Sacred Sites and Bali High Priests, at the governor’s office in Denpasar

The forum was one of many organizations that had declared their opposition to allowing private investors to develop Lake Buyan.

Anantara had offered to develop Lake Buyan into a site dubbed the “Buyan eco-tourism heaven,” promising to restore the lake’s depth – which had become shallower due to sedimentation and the construction of villas on its edges – while adding a theater stage able to host up to 600 dancers in the middle of the lake.

Pastika said his decision to reject this offer was made after consulting with NGOs and community groups.

“Their offer was not in line with our philosophical and social rules,” he said.

He was referring to several claims by the community that Lake Buyan is a sacred area and that any construction in the area would destroy its purity.

In Hindu-majority Bali, residents believe that several lakes, seabeds and mountains are sacred areas. Lakes, in particular, are revered as the throne of Bhatari Danu, the goddess of water and fertility. For a religious culture that has been built upon water and agriculture, huge water reservoirs like lakes are an important and sacred cultural landmark.

This belief has been bolstered by a regional bylaw prohibiting construction at sacred sites.

“This lake is a sacred site that we must preserve for our grandchildren. I will protect Bali with my body and soul,” Pastika said.

Located in Sukasada district, Lake Buyan is one of the three lakes situated within a large caldera. A vast wild forest separates Lake Buyan from Lake Tamblingan to its west, while to its east lies Lake Beratan.

So far only the area around Lake Beratan has been developed as a tourist destination. Its close proximity with Eka Karya, the island’s largest botanical garden, has made Lake Beratan a favorite weekend getaway for the residents of Bali’s southern urban areas.

Lake Beratan also hosts Ulun Danu, one of the most important water temples on the island. Lake Buyan’s original area of 478.33 hectares has shrunk by 60 hectares due to sedimentation.

“That’s 10 hectares every year. If we allow this to continue, Lake Buyan will cease to be a lake within 10 years,” Pastika said.

He said he planned to gather a number of experts to find the best way to restore the lake, adding that damage to the lake had reached a critical point.

“We’ll see what they’ve come up with. What’s certain is that we have to move fast to save Lake Buyan,” he said.

Si Ketut Mandiranatha, coordinator of the Forum for Protection of Sacred Sites and Bali High Priests, said he was happy about the governor’s decision, adding that the forum expected all projects on sacred sites in Bali to be stopped.

“We want the exploitation of our sacred sites to stop because it is an insult to our religion, culture and traditions,” he said.

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