Published on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Opposition mounts over Lombok volcano cable car project

Local opposition is gaining steam against a divisive plan to build a cable car ride near one of Indonesia's tallest volcanoes.

The West Nusa Tenggara provincial government recently announced plans for the cable car at Mount Rinjani in Lombok.

The plan has angered local conservationists and environmental groups.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said the project could cause untold damage to the area and result in social and economic problems for outlying villages.

"The cable car construction will damage the environment because the commercial facilities will definitely result in significant change to the natural landscape of the area," said Walhi NTB executive director Murdani.

Murdani said the area is an important agricultural region for Lombok and a key source for its water supply.

Any construction in the area could seriously hamper the food supply chain and impact livelihoods, as well as affect the natural beauty of the area.

Mount Rinjani lies in a protected national park and is designated a UNESCO geopark.

Officials say construction will not take place inside the Mount Rinjani National Park boundaries.

 "We've already coordinated with the NTB Environment and Forestry Agency, and they informed us that the cable car will not be located inside the national park, but around the plantation areas that the provincial administration has the authority to manage," said Mount Rinjani National Park Center chief Dedi Asriyadi.

That hasn't dispelled fears it will do long lasting damage.

Walhi says the NTB government are trying to rush the project.

NTB Governor Zulkieflimansyah has stated he hopes it would be open by late 2021 when Lombok hosts its first ever MotoGP race.

Construction could begin in May this year, the governor said.

"Seeing that there are still many unsolved issues within the mountain area, Walhi disapproves of this project and urges the NTB administration to stop the construction plan," Murdani added.

"They have clearly not thought about the environmental impacts if they begin the construction in May."

A Rinjani Global Geopark official told me the organisation is against the plan  but also doesn't beleive it will come to fruition due to uncertainty over private funding of the project.

Mount Rinjani is a popular hiking destination but is still a highly active volcano.

It is on the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history.

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