Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Aviation Expansion in Indonesia

A new report Airport Expansion in Indonesia:tourism, land struggles, economic zones and aerotropolis projects  has been published jointly by TWN Third World Network and Global Anti-Metropolis Movement (GAAM). Aviation expansion drive in Indonesia is geared towards promoting tourism as a new engine of economic growth. But new airports, and expansion of existing airports, frequently entails displacement of communities, loss of farmland and deforestation. The 64-page report looks at 58 airports - operational, under construction and still in the planning stage - and documents land rights struggles relating to 25 projects. The report accompanies GAAM’s digital map, Aviation Expansion in Indonesia, which integrates spatial information with text and images.

Aviation expansion in Indonesia is linked to new Special Economic Zones (SEZs), designated for industrial and tourism development, provided with surface transportation networks and other supportive infrastructure and lavished with tax breaks. Several SEZs have been bestowed with long stretches of coastline boasting white sand beaches, natural assets that are a cornerstone of tourism. There are a number of plans for aerotropolis-style developments. Two of these projects - currently under construction in Java: Kulon Progo and Kertajati – have experienced vigorous and long-standing resistance from communities being forced to leave their homes and productive agricultural land. A number of aerotropolis-type plans are integrated with development of tourist resorts that aspire to become aviation-dependent destinations in their own right.

For paper copies of the report, please contact: Third World Network, 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia, Tel: 60-4-2266728/2266159, Fax: 60-4-2264505, Email:

Thursday, 6 April 2017

My new article published on The Ecologist website highlights a rural community's resistance to eviction for a major aerotropolis in Indonesia: Villagers resist eviction for 50 airport city on their land. Over a period of twelve years, ten villages and a vast area of farmland have been wiped from the map for construction of Kertajati Airport in West Java. But Sukamulya village remains. Residents have successfully blocked numerous attempts by officials to measure land for the airport. Tensions came to a head on 17th November 2016 as villagers gathered yet again to defend their land, and were met with 2,000 police. Teargas was fired and 12 protesters were injured.

Sukamulya villagers' resistance to eviction from their homes and productive agricultural land is recognized as one of Indonesia's key land rights struggles. The article includes a recent video of construction the airport amidst the farmland, and a video capturing just over a minute's coverage of the teargassing by police. The video below shows villagers gathered in the paddy fields, outnumbered by police, with the sound of teargas being fired and plumes of smoke rising in the background.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Mapping aviation expansion in Indonesia

Having long been interested in the use of digital mapping for innovative communications, integrating spatial information with text, images and other media, I took the plunge and developed the content for the Aviation Expansion in Indonesia: tourism, land struggles, economic zones and aerotropolis projects map. It includes 60 airports, operational and at various stages of construction and planning, plus two projects that have been cancelled. Land rights is a key issue and there are struggles and disputes relating to at least 25 of the airports on the map. There are many instances of state repression against people resisting eviction from their homes and farmland.

Screengrab of digital map:Aviation Expansion in Indonesia
Aviation expansion is closely intertwined with a massive government tourism drive, and several airport projects are linked with economic zones. Aerotropolis style development is planned around a number of airports, including Kulon Progo and Kertajati airports currently under construction in Java. The map was created for Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) using the Storymap app, which is creating quite a buzz in the geospatial community. The national context to the information in the digital map will be explored in a forthcoming in-depth report about aviation expansion in Indonesia, which will be published by GAAM in partnership with the Third World Network (TWN).

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