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Jakarta Post

Jakarta air pollution lawsuit still in limbo after a year of proceedings

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, July 7, 2020   /   09:26 am
Jakarta air pollution lawsuit still in limbo after a year of proceedings Thick smog blankets the high-rise buildings of Jakarta's business district on Jl. Sudirman on Oct. 9, 2019. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Activists have criticized the slow process of a historic Jakarta air pollution lawsuit, which remains unresolved a year after it was first filed on July 4, 2019.

The lawsuit, directed at seven state officials, initially received a positive response from the Jakarta administration. However, no agreement has been reached even after five mediation meetings inside the courtroom and two outside the courtroom.

The activists, grouped under the Coalition for the Clean Air Initiative, urged the government officials to show “a serious attitude” in guaranteeing the right to healthy living.

Read also: Activists lambaste sluggish progress in air pollution lawsuit

One of the plaintiffs, Khalisah, argued that the government’s handling of air pollution under Government Regulation (PP) No. 41/1999 on air pollution control was outdated and did not meet current standards.

“The provisions in the PP are far below the quality standards set by the World Health Organization. The government should not ignore WHO recommendations, especially during the current pandemic,” Khalisah said in a statement on Monday.

Another plaintiff, urban analyst Elisa Sutanudjaja, said that besides encouraging a “new normal” in dealing with the government response to COVID-19, the government should also encourage a “new norm” of reducing air pollution levels.

“[The government should] prioritize non-motorized transportation, as well as public transportation, instead of motorized vehicles,” Elisa said.

Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) advocacy team member Ayu Eza Tiara said there were many reports predicting that, by 2030, air pollution levels in the city could increase up to 30-fold, damaging residents’ physical and psychological health, as well as the economy.

“There is no excuse for the government to ignore the right to a clean and healthy environment. There is no need to wait for a legally binding ruling for the government to start thinking about the right efforts,” Ayu said.

“The lawsuit from the citizens should be a strong warning for the government to overcome the air pollution issue, and carry out the duties and functions as mandated in the Constitution.”

Read also: Air pollution returns as activity back to normal

The lawsuit was filed against seven state officials, namely the president of the Republic of Indonesia, the environment and forestry minister, the home minister, the health minister and the governors of Jakarta, Banten and West Java.

The move was made in response to the severe air pollution in Jakarta, which stems mostly from vehicle emissions, factories and coal-fired power plants.