Environment The World’s Fastest-Sinking Megacity Has One Last Chance to Save Itself

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Parts of Jakarta are subsiding at unprecedented speed. The longshot fix rests with noodle billionaire Anthoni Salim.

Venice is sinking. So are Rotterdam, Bangkok and New York. But no place compares to Jakarta, the fastest-sinking megacity on the planet. Over the past 25 years, the hardest-hit areas of Indonesia’s capital have subsided more than 16 feet. The city has until 2030 to figure out a solution, experts say, or it will be too late to hold back the Java Sea.

Cue Anthoni Salim, the billionaire owner of PT Air Bersih Jakarta, the firm tapped by the government to expand piped water access to the city’s 11 million residents immediately, if not sooner. As of now, one in three Jakartans doesn’t have access to piped water, relying instead on the thousands of illegal wells that dot the city — and deplete the aquifers and weaken the ground, creating prime conditions for further sinking.

If Salim’s ABJ can help deliver on the plan to bring water to every Jakarta household, experts say the city has a chance — and the company will rake in billions of dollars. If it fails, it’s likely that chaos will reign in the world’s second-biggest metropolis. Unabated sinking, combined with intensifying storms and rising sea levels, will be more than Jakarta’s seawalls can withstand, said JanJaap Brinkman, a flood expert at Dutch water research institute Deltares: “There will be so much sea water rushing in, it will never stop. There will be no escape.”

For Salim, who didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story, it’s been a long time coming. He’s amassed more than $10 billion through a handful of industries, including one of the world’s biggest instant-noodle makers, but controlling the capital’s water supply has been a personal priority since a revolution almost dismantled his family’s conglomerate 25 years ago. When the government sought bids to revamp the city’s water infrastructure, Salim’s was one of two companies to raise its hand.

 
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Ambitious plans are in place to relocate an entire sinking city 1,200 miles away to a large island inhabited by indigenous communities.

More than 1.9 million residents of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, may need to relocate as part of an ambitious £24 billion ($30 billion) plan. The first residents are expected to move to the new city by the end of October 2024.

The new capital city of Nusantara, which encompasses a vast area of 1,000 square miles, is being built on the island of Borneo. Only 216 square miles have been allocated for the city's initial development. The remaining land will be used for future expansion, according to The Sun.

Jakarta's population is booming, currently at 11 million. Experts warn that by 2050, rising sea levels could submerge up to 95 percent of North Jakarta. In response to these challenges, the Indonesian government is gearing up to develop a new capital city.



It's finally happening. The first major human relocation of a big city due to environmental changes is now planned.
 
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