Looks like it’s not only Malaysians who are sick of the haze that blankets our cities almost every year.
Sick and tired of the coughing, wheezing and stinging eyes, residents of Jakarta are saying “ENOUGH” by suing the Indonesian government for air pollution.
Channel News Asia (CNA) reported that 31 residents of the Indonesian capital are suing President Joko Widodo, the environment and forestry ministry, health ministry, AND Jakarta’s governor over the toxic levels of air pollution in the city.
The group that’s suing the government include activists, university students, office workers and motorcycle taxi drivers.
“(The government) has neglected people’s rights to breathe healthy air.Nelson Nikodemus Simamora, Lawyer via Channel News Asia
They have not maintained air quality at a level that is healthy enough for the 10 million people living here.”
How did they get here?
In 2016, a coalition of environmental groups and the Legal Aid Foundation began collecting data on the air pollution in the city.
They then spent two years trying to show their findings to various ministries and agencies. But no one did anything.
“They even ignored us when we gave them an ultimatum in December. We threatened them that we will take this to court if they do nothing within 60 days.”Ayu Eza Tiara, the lawyer in the case via Channel News Asia
As you may have guessed, they went ahead and sued them all.
Social media also played a huge role. When Jakarta was named the world’s top 10 most polluted city by air quality monitor IQAir AirVisual, it became a hot topic on Indonesian social media.
Jakartans started posting images of the smog-covered city with the hashtag #SetorFotoPolusi to illustrate how bad the situation really is.
So… How bad is the air pollution in Jakarta, really?
It’s bad. Like REAL bad.
The IQAir AirVisual 2018 report showed that Jakarta is Southeast Asia’s most polluted city with an air quality index of 45.3.
This puts the city in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category, which means that general public and sensitive individuals are at risk to experience irritation and respiratory problems.
The measure of pollution in the report focuses on the concentration of harmful microscopic particles known as PM2.5. Due to its small size, PM2.5 can penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and spread to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects.
What’s more concerning though, is that the report finds that Jakarta is at risk of overtaking China’s famously polluted capital, Beijing, where the air quality is actually getting better.
However, the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry told CNA that the Jakarta air quality is at moderate levels based on their data and standards.
“As far as I know, they (Air Visual) based their assessment from satellite images and readings taken from several monitoring stations at the city centre. We have monitoring stations spread all across Jakarta, not just the city centre. So on average, the city’s air quality is not that bad.”Andono Warih, Chief Jakarta provincial government’s environment office via Channel News Asia
What happens next?
Indonesian court will be hearing arguments from both sides on 1st August, but Ayu Eza Tiara suspects that they will be facing a long, tough battle in court.
“I think the government will try to stall the proceedings by not showing up or ask for more time.Ayu Eza Tiara, the lawyer in the case via Channel News Asia
I predict it will take months, or possibly more than a year before a ruling is issued.”
This news comes hot on the heels of the ongoing conversation on the global climate crisis, where members of the public are starting to take matters into their own hands instead of waiting for governments to implement green restorative policies.