Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Residents seek closure of polluting companies

Source: The Jakarta Post

Furious residents of Sukabumi Selatan subdistrict in West Jakarta demanded on Tuesday that the City Council close down dozens of laundry companies that have allegedly caused serious pollution in their areas.

Protesting in front of the council building on Jl. Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta, the residents said the companies had disposed of liquid waste directly into Pasanggrahan and Sekretaris rivers without treating it first.

Mifdol, one of the residents, said they could no longer drink water from artesian wells as it had been contaminated by hazardous substances from the companies.

He said there were over 55 laundry firms washing blue jeans there. He said detergents and blue dye from the jeans had polluted both the rivers and their surrounding areas.

"Councillors are our last hope because officials from subdistrict to municipal level have ignored our protests," Mifdol said.

The residents have also accused those companies of using vast amounts of groundwater, causing people living in the vicinity to suffer water shortages.

Anwar, another resident, said many people -- particularly those whose houses are close to the firms -- have complained that, since last year, they could no longer pump up groundwater.

According to officials from the city industry agency and the city mining agency, many of those companies are not equipped with complete documents, including permits for pumping up groundwater.

Several residents said the companies had begun their operations in those areas in the early 1990s. But residents had only protested recently after realizing the impact of the pollution on their environment.

The demonstrators were received by members of Commission D for development affairs and commission A for legal and administrative affairs.

Commission D deputy chairman Muhayar promised to check the locations next week. He said the council might recommend the closure of those companies if they were indeed illegal and the pollution charges were proved.

Governor Sutiyoso previously said that the city administration would not change the land use plan for Sukabumi Selatan subdistrict from a residential area into an industrial zone.

Chairman of the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) Kosasih Wirahadikusumah made a similar statement on Tuesday, saying that those companies had violated the city's land use plan.

He said the city administration would close down those companies because they had violated several regulations including the illegal use of groundwater and disposing of waste without treatment.

He suggested that those companies relocate their operations to the Pulo Gadung industrial zone in East Jakarta so that they would not disturb residential areas.