Posted by: Hendra Siry | 5 March, 2008

Environmental Degradation Changes A Coastal Village

Kampung Marunda, located in the northeastern most point of Jakarta, is a collective name for four villages: Marunda Pulo, Marunda Alam, Marunda Kongsi and Marunda Kepu. Locals say that in the past the name Marunda referred to the first three only. Kepu was not part of the kampung, in fact it was the village burial site.

All the villages were located on the coastal area at the edge of old Batavia (the Dutch name for Jakarta during the colonial era).

Legend has it that the name “Marunda” is an abbreviation of “MARkas yang tertUNDA” (postponement base). It is said that during the Mataram (now Central Java) kingdom, Sultan Agung set up a logistical base in what is now the village during a siege of Batavia from 1628 to 1629.

The villagers said that 20 years ago, the edge of Marunda was a thicket of mangrove trees so dense they called it a jungle.

Marunda Pulo was home to most of the fishermen, while Marunda Kongsi was a large area of land used for fish farming.

The name “Kongsi” is a Chinese word meaning commercial association. The area was supposed to host rich landlords who had guards for their vast land, allowing them to build huts and fish farms.

“From my ancestors stories and my own experiences, I know the Marunda people are working class,” said Lemin, a resident of Marunda. “We built huts and farmed fish on land owned by rich landlords. We were basically just workers.”

As time passed, some land was sold to new people or put under government authority. The rights of the village people to the land is not acknowledged by the landowners or the government. Around 1980, the government started several construction projects, including a log shipment dock in Marunda Pulo and the Tanjung Priok bypass highway. While the dock construction forced the people to move to neighboring villages, the highway construction attracted outsiders to gather sand from the shore and sell it to the developers.

Years of massive sand excavation, sea erosion and the establishment of fish farms have contributed to the destruction of the mangrove thickets, which in turn has added to the degradation of the coastal environment.

“The era marked prominent changes in our life,” said Lemin, who still makes a living as a fish farmer. (dre)

Source: The Jakarta Post – February 28, 2008



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