A video explainer on why the country is relocating its capital from Jakarta to a planned new city Nusantara.
On January 18, Indonesia’s Parliament approved a bill to relocate the country’s capital. Indonesia will move its capital from Jakarta to a new city to be built on the island of Borneo.
The city named Nusantara is being built in the forested province of East Kalimantan, some 2,000 km northeast of Jakarta across the Java Sea.
The decision followed growing concerns about the long-term sustainability of Jakarta. The project is Indonesia’s biggest and is estimated to cost more than $30 billion.
It has, however, has triggered concerns about a massive environmental impact.
What’s the problem with Jakarta?
Home to around 10 million people, Jakarta has served as the national capital since Indonesia’s independence.
The city has suffered from a range of urban problems from overcrowding to pollution.
Jakarta possibly has some of the most congested roads in the world.
One major concern about its long-term future was tied to the fact that the city stands on a swamp on the island of Java and has slowly been sinking.
Studies have forecast that the entire city could sink by 2050, while flooding is a recurring problem.
In August 2019, President Joko Widodo first announced that the capital would be shifted from Jakarta to a new city.
A new bill passed in 2022 has outlined a plan to shift the capital in five stages, the last ending in 2045
Why are environmentalists concerned?
Environmental groups have expressed concerns that the new project may end up accelerating pollution among other problems in Kalimantan.
The region is known for its biodiversity and the rainforests here are home to several animal species including orangutans, sun bears and long-nosed monkeys.
Critics have warned that the move could lead to massive deforestation and endanger the biodiversity of the region.
Have other countries recently shifted capitals?
States have shifted capitals for a multitude of reasons throughout history, from the weather and military reasons to pride projects and just politics.
In 1997, Kazakhstan shifted its capital from Almaty to Astana, like many new capitals, a planned city.
Myanmar in 2005 shifted its capital from Yangon to another planned city, Naypyidaw.
Reporting | Ananth Krishnan
Voiceover & Production | K Rajashree Das