Violating Spatial Planning, Disaster Strikes Again
The mismatch of land use in the upstream of the Citarum watersheds has contributed to flooding and landslides in the areas that are in the watersheds. Neglect of spatial planning is the cause of floods and landslides.
Uban Suban (43), the head of Dusun 1 hamlet in neighborhood unit (RT) 002, community unit (RW) 013 in Cikembang, Kertasari district, Bandung regency, said that flooding had occurred frequently in the hamlet over the last two years.
According to the records of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), at least 12 floods have hit Cikembang village in the last four years.
"In the past, there was a flood every five years, but now, I don't dare count them," he said when Kompas met him on Sunday (5/2/2023).
Uban acknowledged that flash floods occurred in the hamlet because of bare land in the hills. “It floods because the bare hill cannot absorb the water. The water cannot be retained," he said.
Almost all hills in Kertasari district have turned brown. Approaching closer, the brown and bare hills have been turned into swaths of agricultural land lying parallel to the slope. Some plots have already been planted, but many are still uncultivated.
According to overlay slope and land cover maps, Cikembang village had 69.9 hectares of agricultural land located on steep slopes in 2019.
Bandung regency’s agriculture office has encouraged and advised the local residents to change their cropping patterns on steep slopes with a terraced system. However, because it disrupted production, the residents returned to the old cropping pattern.
Improper land use in the upstream area of the Citarum River watershed (DAS) also contributed to flooding in Dayeuhkolot district, Bandung regency. This subdistrict is located at a confluence of two rivers, the Citarum and the Cikapundung. Over the past four years, according to BNPB data, 33 floods have hit areas in Dayeuhkolot.
I was born and raised here. Indeed, since I was small, this area has been flooded frequently.
Asep Riatna (40), a resident of Citeureup village in Dayeuhkolot district, has experienced reoccurring floods for decades. He had to be alert of any prolonged heavy rainfall in the upstream area, because the water level quickly rose to overflow the riverbanks.
“I was born and raised here. Indeed, since I was small, this area has been flooded frequently. Moreover, my house is located close to the riverbank, and if you look at it, its position is lower than the bank," Asep said when Kompas spoked to him at his house on Monday (6/2).
The distance between Asep's house and the Cikapundung River, which flows into the Citarum River, is around 50 meters. According to river boundary regulations, the location of Asep's house does not violate the rules. The setback line in urban areas is at least 3 m from a river embankment.
However, the results of a study on Bandung regency’s RTRW map overlaid against the 2020 built-up land map from the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) show that there are around 2.4 ha of built-up land along riverbanks in Citeureup village.
You could say we were extremely helped.
The government has also built several flood prevention infrastructures in the Bandung area, including the Nanjung Tunnel, Cisankuy Sodetan, and Cisankuy and Andir retention ponds.
According to Asep, these infrastructures helped reduce the duration of floods, including the flooding that occurred on 15 April 2022.
"You could say we were extremely helped. Usually, floods last for days, and some residents have to take a refuge. Now, this is no more. However, sometimes there are still floods that last a long time and disrupt our activities," said Asep.
Through an overlay map study of slopes and the GHSL’s built-up land in Batulayang village, Cililin district, West Bandung regency, it is clear that 4.6 ha of built-up land are on steep slopes that are also at risk of landslides.
Joli (41), who lives in Pasirnangka kampung of Batulayang village, is always worried that his house will be crushed by a cliff collapse. Joli's house is almost adjacent to the river that flows into the Saguling Reservoir. Apart from the structure built of wood and plywood, the vertical cliffs more than 5 m high also have the potential to collapse if it rains.
Some material slid down from the cliff a year ago. The house shifted nearly a meter, and some of the material entered the room adjacent to the cliff. "The landslide occurred in the evening. At home there were only a wife and children,” he said.
Since then, Joli has been constantly worried about leaving his house to work as a porter at Pasar Rancapanggung, which is 4 kilometers away.
He is always worried when clouds hang in the sky. If it rains, he hopes that his family will not be affected. "We don't know where else to go. This is our only home,” he said, gloomily.
The risk of being hit by combined floods and landslides is also of concern to the family of Ahmad Muslim (63), who lives in Tanjung Mekar, Karawang regency. He and his eight family members live in a house that stands right above the steeply sloped mouth of the Cibeet River. His house is 2 m from the river.
The location of Ahmad's house violates the river boundary regulation, which states that houses should be set back at least 15 m from the edge of a river that has a depth of 3-20 m.
The results of a map overlay analysis on Karawang regency’s RTRW map and the GHSL’s 2020 built-up land map show that around 30 ha of residential land in Tanjung Mekar village are located between the setback line and the riverbank. Flooding is the main threat to Ahmad's and his neighbors’ houses on the banks of the Cibeet River. According to BNPB data, nine floods have occurred in the area over the last four years.
The government is not without a solution. It has widened the Cibeet River and asked Ahmad and his family to move to a safer location. Moreover, the land behind his house, which borders the riverbank, collapses frequently.
However, Ahmad and the six other occupants of his house decided to stay. "I don't want to move because there is no money to buy land again," he said. ()
This article was translated by Hendarsyah Tarmizi