Although it’s often overshadowed by the awful traffic and flooding problems, Jakarta has been known to suffer from some of the worst air pollution of any city on Earth, an issue that was highlighted in July, shortly before the capital co-hosted the Asian Games, when Jakarta sunk to the bottom of some world air quality rankings.
Fed up with a lack of official action to tackle the enormous environmental and health hazard, a group of activists calling themselves the Universal Coalition Air Clean Initiative Movement (an unwieldy name probably chosen to justify its Indonesian abbreviation, Ibukota, which means capital city) is initiating legal action to force the government’s hand.
Ibukota representatives came to the Jakarta City Hall today (riding bicycles, appropriately enough) to submit notice that they were filing a Citizen Lawsuit (CLS) over the government’s lack of effort to protect its citizens by reducing the capital’s air pollution. The CLS notification accused the government of not meeting its own legal requirements regarding the management of air quality.
Dengan bersepeda, hari ini koalisi IBUKOTA yang terdiri dari banyak lembaga dan juga individu, resmi memasukkan surat…
“Through this lawsuit, the government is expected to come up with a strategy and a clear plan of action about limiting air pollution,” said the group’s chairman, Nelson Nikodemus Simamora, as quoted by Media Indonesia.
The CLS names seven government officials as defendants: the president, the minister of the environment and forestry, the minister of health, minister of home affairs, governor of Jakarta, the governor of West Java, and the governor of Banten.
Nelson said the high-ranking national and regional government officials were named in the CLS because they all contributed to Jakarta’s air quality issues. The central government had failed to issue regulations regarding the coordination of pollution handling between regions and neighboring regions like Banten and West Java have contributed to the capital’s pollution through their industrial waste.
Leonard Simanjuntak, a member of Ibukota who is also the head of Greenpeace Indonesia, said Jakarta’s air was a danger to the health of those who live here, arguing that air quality monitoring data consistently showed the capital’s ozone and particulate concentration readings exceeding healthy thresholds.
As an example, he noted that the US Embassy in Jakarta’s air quality monitor from January to October 2018 showed that Central Jakarta had ‘unhealthy’ PM 2.5 ratings (PM 2.5 being a measurement of particulate matter over 25 micrograms per cubic meter) on 206 of those days.
CLS are a mechanism for citizens to sue state officials for negligence in the fulfillment of the rights of citizens. Rather than suing for money, the goal of a CLS is to force the government to enact regulations that will allow those rights to be fulfilled. They have been used in the recent past by activists to pressure the government on issues such as water privatization and deforestation.
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