Jakarta residents to sue government over air pollution


Jakarta, July 2 A group of Jakarta residents are planning to file a lawsuit against the Indonesian government over toxic levels of air pollution in the capital and its satellite cities, which together form one of the largest megalopolises in the world, with around 30 million people.

The civil suit will be filed in the coming days and is driven by a coalition of non-governmental organizations accusing the government and provincial authorities managing the cities of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi of violating environmental laws, according to promoters of the initiative on Tuesday.

In a letter of notification – a legal requirement for such lawsuits – 58 residents of Jakarta Metropolitan Area held Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the Ministers of Health, Interior and Environment, and the provincial Governors of Banten, Jakarta and West Java responsible for the high levels of pollution, Efe news reported.

The document presented in December 2018 accuses the government of not implementing required air pollution checks on vehicles and industries and demanded a plan of action for bringing down pollution levels in each province.

“We are still waiting for a response from the government,” said activist Bondan Andriyanu of Greenpeace Indonesia, a non-profit supporting the lawsuit.

Air pollution levels in Jakarta have increased by more than 50 per cent from PM2.5 levels of 29.7 in 2017 to 45.3 in 2018, according to air quality index platform Air Visual.

Pollution levels have continued to rise in 2019, with June being one of the worst months. Measurements on Tuesday indicated it was the second-most polluted city in the world after Delhi.

High levels of air pollution increase the probability of people suffering heart attacks, respiratory diseases and other illnesses, according to a study by the non-profit Greenpeace.

Andriyanu said that the first requirement would be to ensure air pollution was given “national priority”.

The Indonesian capital is one of the cities with the worst traffic jams in the world, which, according to Widodo in January, causes the state to lose some 65 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($4.6 billion) a year.

In addition, according to Andriyanu, the eight coal-fired power plants around Jakarta – where another four are in construction – contribute to worsening air quality in the capital.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has in the past recognized the problem and attributed it to the large number of vehicles that also come in from the satellite cities.

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