Indonesia’s capital is rapidly sinking into the sea

Indonesia’s capital is rapidly sinking into the sea

Jakarta is congested, polluted, prone to earthquakes and rapidly sinking into the Java Sea. Now the government is leaving, and moving the country's capital to the island of Borneo.

President Joko Widodo envisions the construction of a new capital as a panacea for the problems plaguing Jakarta, reducing its population while allowing the country to start fresh with a "sustainable city" that has good public transportation, is integrated with its natural environment and is in an area that's not prone to natural disasters.

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"The construction of the new capital city is not merely a physical move of government offices," Widodo said last week ahead of parliament's approval of the plan. "The main goal is to build a smart new city, a new city that is competitive at the global level, to build a new locomotive for the transformation ... toward an Indonesia based on innovation and technology based on a green economy."

Skeptics worry, however, about the environmental impact of plunking a sprawling 256,000-hectare (990 square mile) city down in Borneo's East Kalimantan province, which is home to orangutans, leopards and a wide array of other wildlife, as well as committing $34 billion to the ambitious project amid a global pandemic.

"The new capital city's strategic environmental study shows that there are at least three basic problems," said Dwi Sawung, an official with the WALHI environmental group.

"There are threats to water systems and risks of climate change, threats to flora and fauna, and threats of pollution and environmental damage," she said.

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Author: JAKARTA, Indonesia

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