Why is Indonesia shifting capital from Jakarta to Nusantara?
Indonesia is planning to relocate its capital city from Jakarta to East Kalimantan and name it Nusantara. The parliament approved a bill in this regard earlier this week. The future capital is located approximately 2,000 kilometers northeast of Jakarta on Borneo island. The cost of the new project is expected to be over $32 billion (Rs. 238 crore), according to CNN.
- Jakarta is prone to floods as a result of climate change and is plagued by severe congestion and pollution.
- Nusantara was chosen as it symbolized Indonesia's geography and was iconic globally, said Suharso Monoarfa, the national development planning minister.
- President Joko Widodo had planned to relocate the capital in 2019, however, the relocation was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new bill also specifies how the capital's development would be funded and managed. "The new capital has a central function and is a symbol of the identity of the nation, as well as a new center of economic gravity," said Manoarfa.
As per the World Economic Forum, Jakarta is one of the world's fastest sinking cities as it rests on swampy land near the sea, leaving it especially vulnerable to flooding. Jakarta is expected to submerge in the next 30 years. "If we look at our models, by 2050, about 95% of North Jakarta will be submerged," said Heri Andreas, researcher, Bandung Institute of Technology.
With the city's air quality plummeting in recent months, Jakarta confronts additional environmental challenges. The population of the city is 10 million, with an estimated 30 million in the greater metropolitan region, according to the United Nations. In Indonesia's 17,000-island archipelago, Kalimantan is more centrally positioned. "The location is very strategic, it's close to urban areas," said Widodo.
"The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade, and services," the president said, adding that "by relocating the capital, the government hopes to redistribute wealth."
Widodo has decided the name, Nusantara, which translates to "archipelago." It is located on the island of Borneo, in the Kalimantan jungle. The new capital city's entire land area will be roughly 2,56,143 hectares, according to the National Planning and Development Agency. The majority of Borneo is owned by Indonesia, with Malaysia and Brunei each owning a portion of the island in the north.
The first phase of the relocation will take place between 2022 and 2024. The government has termed the new capital a low-carbon "super hub" that will boost the health, pharmaceutical, and technology industries while also promoting long-term prosperity. Nusantara will be led by a top authority who will have the status of a minister.
The East Kalimantan province is rich in flora and fauna. According to reports, critics argue that the development of Nusantara will result in deforestation in a region rich in diverse animals and lush rainforests. The "existing protected forest", however, will not be damaged, said the planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, adding that "instead we will rehabilitate it."
In 1911, during the era of British-India, George V, the then emperor, shifted the capital from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Delhi. Myanmar, Brazil, Kazakhstan, and Egypt, have also relocated their capitals in the past.