- Parts of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city, could be underwater by 2050 due to a devastating combination of sinking land and sea level rise.
- The Indonesian government plans to address the issue by moving Jakarta 100 miles away from its current location.
- The project would require a $US33 billion budget, but it might be the only way to save Jakarta’s 10 million residents from flooding.
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Jakarta is on track to become the world’s largest megacity, but it could soon lose a good portion of its residents.
The Indonesian government recently approved a plan to move the capital 100 miles away from its current location on the island of Java. Though the central bank and financial institutions would remain put, between 900,000 and 1.5 million of Jakarta’s residents could be headed for a new address.
After a seven-decade reign as Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta faces the growing challenge of sea level rise, which threatens to submerge entire swathes of the city by 2050. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Jakarta’s land is sinking up to 6.7 inches per year due to excessive groundwater pumping.
In recent years, floods have devastated homes, vehicles, and local businesses, particularly in Jakarta’s poorer neighbourhoods. Take a look at the damage.
Jakarta is home to more than ten million residents. The metropolitan area is more than three times bigger.
The city is on track to surpass Tokyo as the world’s largest megacity by 2030.
Jakarta currently rests on swampy land in a low-lying basin along the Java Sea.
Nearly half of the city sits below sea level, making it extremely vulnerable to floods.
Only a quarter of Jakarta’s residents have access to piped water, which means many of them have to drill for it underground.
The drilling process is also less expensive than paying for water utilities.
This excessive groundwater pumping has turned Jakarta into the world’s fastest-sinking city.
Jakarta’s land is sinking at a rate of up to 6.7 inches per year.
As the land dips lower, sea levels have gotten higher due to climate change.
The devastating combination of floods and subsidence threatens to submerge entire swathes of the city by 2050.
To combat this issue, Jakarta’s president, Joko Widodo, has approved a plan to move the capital 100 miles away from its current location.
The entire project would take around ten years and require a $US33 billion budget.
The government still has to choose an alternate spot, but the state media outlet has said they’re considering Palangka Raya, a city on the island of Borneo.
Before arriving at this plan, the city struggled to control an annual stream of floods.
One of the most destructive floods took place in 2007. Around 70,000 homes were submerged and around 80 people died.
In 2013, another flood killed nearly 50 people. The damage was made worse by the city’s poor sewage system, which is often clogged with garbage and debris.
A year later, Jakarta decided to build a giant, 15-mile sea wall to protect the city from flooding.
The estimated cost of the project is $US40 million.
Many oppose the wall on the grounds that it doesn’t address Jakarta’s sinking land.
Others worry that the construction would destroy local fishing communities.
The issue of flooding in Jakarta is often tied up with the city’s inequality.
When wealthy communities pump groundwater, they cause subsidence in low-lying coastal areas.
These areas are often occupied by residents who can’t afford to live in the central business district or elite residential enclaves.
Limited access to water can keep low-income communities mired in poverty.
Moving the capital to a new location could eliminate some of the strain on Jakarta’s resources, thereby reducing inequality.
If Jakarta goes through with the plan, it won’t be the first city to move its capital.
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