Jakarta Governor Says Poor Can Farm City Land
Agence France Presse (English)
Thu 06 Aug 1998
JAKARTA, Aug 6 (AFP) - The governor of Indonesia's capital has given the city's poor the go-ahead to use idle government land to grow food, but urged them to get permission first instead of just grabbing it, the daily Kompas said Thursday.
"I know what sufferings the people are facing, but I plead with you to go through the proper procedures for taking over the idle land," Kompas quoted Governor Sutiyoso as saying.
Sutiyoso was speaking to hundreds of people who had swarmed without permission onto land near the city's Pulo Mas horse racing track Wednesday and dug it up for vegetable plots.
"What is important is that when the government takes the land back, they (the temporary users) should surrender it," he added.
Sutiyoso also said the market gardeners should limit themselves to 1.2 hectares (2.96 acres) a piece, Kompas said, citing its own sources as saying that some 6,000 sites around the city could be cultivated.
Throughout Indonesia in the past two months, security forces have been powerless to stop scores of incidents of people digging up golf courses and parks to plant vegetables, banana trees and fast-growing tubers.
A showcase cattle ranch owned by ex-president Suharto on the hills overlooking Jakarta was invaded by some 300 villagers last month, and plantation and fish farm owners have reported massive looting, and called on president B.J. Habibie for security forces to help preserve their crops.
Flying police motocycle patrols set up in the Jakarta last month to prevent theft and looting as the economic crisis bites the poor, have failed to stop the land grabs.
Inflation in Indonesia is running at more than 50 percent and** headed to overtake an International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictionof 66 percent for the whole year.
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