Indonesian President Found to Be Negligent Over Jakarta Pollution

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An court ruled on Thursday that President Joko Widodo and six other top officials had neglected to fulfill citizens’ rights to clean air and ordered them to improve the poor air quality in Jakarta, the capital.

The Central Jakarta District Court panel voted 3 to 0 in favor of 32 residents who filed a lawsuit in July 2019 against the president and three cabinet ministers — of home affairs, health and environment — as well as governors of Jakarta, Banten and West Java.

The suit sought a healthy living environment in the city, one of the world’s most polluted. The plaintiffs — who include activists, public figures, motorcycle-taxi drivers and people suffering pollution-related diseases — had not requested financial compensation, but had demanded more robust supervision and sanctions for polluters.

The presiding judge, Saifuddin Zuhri, said the seven officials had to take serious action to guarantee people’s rights in Jakarta by tightening air-quality regulations and to protect human health, the environment and ecosystems, based on science and technology.

Jakarta has 10 million residents, and three times that number live in its greater metropolitan area.

Jakarta is prone to flooding and rapidly sinking because of uncontrolled ground water extraction. It has been creaking under the weight of its dysfunction, causing massive pollution to rivers and contaminating the ground water that supplies the city.

Congestion is estimated to cost the economy $6.5 billion a year.

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