02 July 2008

Water Policy in Indonesia -- Ground Water

Ground water and the exploitation of this water is coming under greater government scrutiny both on a national level and a local level. It is fair to say that both have been slow of the mark and many of you might be thinking what else is new in this part of the world and this part of the country. It seems to be standard practice to mess around until the last minute and then think about addressing the problem.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that after a somewhat long and tortuous journey the government has confirmed and issued a Regulation on Ground Water. This Regulation is No. 43 of 2008. The Regulation has been in force since the date of its confirmation, 23 May 2008.

The need for this Regulation was that the following Articles from the Law on Water Resources (Law No. 7 of 2004) regulate the exploitation and management of ground water, specifically Articles 10, 12(3), 13(5), 37(3), 58(2), and 59, and these needed to be further enumerated to give effect to the provisions.

The rationale for the Regulation is that ground water plays a critical role in the sustaining of life generally but more importantly is that it sustains the life of the broader community. The Regulation provides for the taking of an inventory of ground water resources while promoting conservation and sustainable management of the resource for the long-term.

Recent debate on the need to more strictly regulate ground water usage is that experts have stated that parts of Jakarta (also known as the Big Durian) have sunk up to 1.5 meters over the last decade because of the unregulated pillaging of Jakarta’s ground water. It is expected that further subsidiary legislation at the local level will see an increase in fees and levies on those that use ground water as their primary water source.

Now, the Jakarta government under the provisions of this Regulation are intending to issue a local regulation or ordinance that will further restrict the use of ground water and set out sizable fines for breach of the provisions. The proposed ordinance is also going to see some substantial increases in the taxes levied on ground water.

Considering that the ground water policy has national, provincial, and municipal elements where each of the distinct government levels has a degree of policy control over the water resources. Nevertheless, it is clear that provincial and municipal policies will not be permitted to run counter to any national ground water policy determined by the Central Government. So, no matter how the government of Jakarta approaches this issue they are still going to have to fall within the basic parameters of the national water policy.

Generally, ground water management will cover aspects of planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, conservation, and exploitation. The terms themselves are self-explanatory and need to be as some of them are only briefly regulated in the Regulation.

However, other provisions are much more comprehensive such as the taking of an inventory of ground water resources which states that the inventory process will include mapping, examination, research, exploration, and evaluation of the data obtained.

The Regulation also stipulates licensing provisions; who needs a license, what licenses are to be granted, and the procedures for securing a license.

It is high time that the government pulled its collective heads out of the sand on this issue and now that it has perhaps it can look at other important issues while it is in the land of the living and the real world.

No comments: