Indonesia moves capital 1,200 miles from sinking Jakarta

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Indonesia moves capital 1,200 miles from sinking Jakarta

Indonesia s parliament on Tuesday passed a law that approving the relocation of its capital from slowly sinking Jakarta to a site 2,000 kilometers 1,200 miles away on the jungle-clad Borneo island that will be named Nusantara. The house of representatives' vote provides the legal framework for the move, which was first tipped by President Joko Widodo in April 2019, citing rising sea levels and severe congestion on densely populated Java island.

Jakarta is home to more than 30 million people and has been plagued by serious infrastructure problems and flooding due to climate change, with experts saying that up to a third of the city could be underwater by the year 2050.

The new capital will cover about 56,180 hectares 216 square miles in East Kalimantan province on the Indonesian part of Borneo, which the country shares with Malaysia and Brunei.

The additional land is intended for potential expansion, with 256,142 hectares being set aside for the project.

Early plans for the new capital show a utopian design aimed at creating an environmentally friendly smart city, but few details have been confirmed.

Plans to begin construction in 2020 were hampered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The environmentalist critics of the capital move have warned that it could damage ecosystems in the region, where mining and palm oil plantations already threaten rainforest that are home to Borneo's endangered species.

On Monday, Widodo said that the new capital would be one where people would be close to any destination, where they can bike and walk everywhere because there are zero emissions. The capital will not only have government offices, but we want to build a new smart metropolis that can be a hub for global talent and a center of innovation," he said in a speech at a local university.

The nation's development minister, Suharso Monoarfa, said Monday that Nusantara, which means archipelago, was chosen from a list of 80 names because it was widely recognisable by Indonesians and easy to memorize.

The new city will be governed by a body called the State Capital Authority, with leadership appointed by the president directly to five-year terms, according to Tuesday s legislation.

Budget details have not yet been revealed in a presidential decree, but previous reports have pegged the project's costs at $33 billion.

Indonesia is not the first country in the region to relocate from an overpopulated capital.

In 2003 Malaysia moved its government to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur, while in 2006 Myanmar moved its capital to Naypyidaw from Rangoon.