Jakarta: A bird's eye view

The view from a helicopter shows the poor planning and lack of green space that has exacerbated the floods.

    The city's master plan had designated the spot
    where this commercial complex sits as a green area

    The view from above Indonesia's capital is one of chaos and contrast.

    Dotted with luxurious mansions and Italian-style condominiums, the posh complex of Kelapa Gading is supposed to be the peak of luxury living in Jakarta, but muddy flood waters have turned the area into another one of the city's many slums.

    Flying above the area in a helicopter, it is clear why the project is a magnet for the flood waters.

    The benefits of city living amid modern shopping malls have gone down the drain due to the lack of open space and an inadequate drainage system.

    Marcos Kusumawijaya, a city planner, pointing at the brown water inundating the immaculate tree-lined avenue below, said the problem was that the internal drainage systems of many real estate projects in the city did not connect to the external one.

    As the helicopter heads north, the view changes dramatically to a dry, modern area dotted with huge shopping malls and offices in Pluit, another testimony of confusing city planning.

    Complex problem

    Marcos tells me that the new complex of offices, malls and apartments does not conform to the master plan for the area, which stipulated that it should be a green space.

    Kusumawijaya said lack of control in the development by the city administration has depleted the green area to less than 9 per cent, compared to 13 per cent as stipulated in master plan 

    But Sutiyoso, the governor of Jakarta, said his administration had imposed strict control in town planning and dismissed suggestions of mismanagement. 

    Refugees taking shelter in a Jakarta cemetery
    - one of the few green areas left in the city

    "We have just done a survey and we found that 10 per cent of the area is a green open space," he told Al Jazeera.

    "We always look at the map [in the master plan] and if the area is in green then we will not give permits for construction ... we are very strict on that," he added.

    Back on the front seat of the helicopter, Marcos points to what looks like a football field where hundreds of people have set up makeshift tents. 

    But as the helicopter gets closer, it becomes apparent that the field is in fact a cemetery.

    "Graveyard may be the only green area left in Jakarta soon," Marcos said with a sigh.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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