April 07, 2020
By May Rahmadi
Jakarta may be able to avoid another flooding as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) is predicting that the capital may see the rainy season ends in March this year, but another calamity continues to lurk: air pollution.
The World Air Quality Report issued by IQAir last month ranks Jakarta fifth in the row of capital cities with the highest air pollution in the world during 2019. The government, particularly the Jakarta administration, appeared so far of having not done its best in preventing the air pollution, the Capital City Coalition (KIK) said.
The coalition, which groups 15 civil organizations and representatives of the society, is calling on the Jakarta administration to immediately take preventive measures to prevent the sky over the capital from being heavy with the smog from pollution in the dry season. This, they argued, is important to protect public health from the impacts of environmental pollution.
Khalisah Khalid, Head of the Political Department of the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) one of the organizations in the coalition, said that the Jakarta administration even appeared as if ignoring the rights of the public to information and was reluctant to open up information on emissions from movable and immovable sources.
“Information transparency is one of rights of the public that has to be met. With open data, the people can play a role in safeguarding the implementation of policies. For example, whether regulations to reduce emission was adequate or not,” Khalid told Ekuatorial during an interview conducted on Friday (13/3.)
Khalid said that environmental information war very important for the public so that people can play an active role in efforts to protect the environment. Environmental information could also open up space for public participation in health protection.
Many residents, Khalid said, consciously take anticipatory moves when they see that conditions of their environment is worsening. “But this would require the availability of accurate emission data,” she said.
Available information data from the Jakarta Office of the Environment according to Khalid is still very general in nature and therefore the coalition wanted to remind the authorities that air pollution is very much an important issue and detailed information should be made available.
“Maybe the government or the public, deem Jakarta’s air problems to have been solved. In rainy season, the crisis is about floods and when we enter the dry season we are facing a different crisis: pollution,” Khalid said. “Data from the Environmental Office is still very general and that is not enough. There should be regularly updated detail information.”
Greenpeace Indonesia Campaign Manager for Climate and Energy, Hindun Mulaika, said that air pollution has become a global health affair. In its research, Greenpeace said that the cost in dealing with air pollution is burdening the state budget, Mulaika said.
A research launched by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Center for Research on Energy and Air (CREA) said that the costs incurred by Indonesia to deal with the impact of air pollution in 2018 reached $11 billion and air pollution claimed 44,000 lives that year.
Accessible public information
Fajri Fadhillah who heads the Pollution Control Division at the International Centre for Environmental Law (ICEL) explained that one type of environmental information which should be accessible to the public was on emission. “Article 49 of Government Regulation number 41 of 1999 on Air Pollution Control, stipulates that the results of supervision on the compliance of businesses in meeting emission quality standard must be informed to the people by the governor,” Fadhillah explained.
Article 53, point (1) of Government Regulation number 27 of 2012 on environmental permits, even requires environmental license holders to report their compliance to the requirements and obligations contained in the environmental permit to the Minister/Governor/District Chief/Mayor every six months. It must contain the performance of the license holders in complying to the emission quality standards.
The Regulation of the Environment and Forestry Minister number 15 of 2019 also stresses the technical obligation of businesses and or activities in controlling emission, monitoring and reporting for all thermal power generating plants.
The Section Head for Public Relations and Guidance of the Jakarta Environmental Office, Yogi Ikhwan said that the Jakarta administration always announced information related to the obligations to report on the emission but that information is usually only made public at the end of the year.
“The information we are making public is those that have been sanctioned. There are various types of sanctions, from verbal warnings, written warnings and permit revocation,” he said. “We also announce those industries which have been sanctioned. We announce both those proper and those improper ones.”
Ikhwan said that the Jakarta administration is conducting two types of supervisions, active and passive. Active supervision involves activities to determine the environmental condition, including around industries, through direct visits and the taking of measurements.
Passive supervision involves receiving reports on the environment quality submitted by industries, that are obliged to submit such reports to the administration once every six months.
A research conducted by ICEL in May 2019 to look at supervision and law enforcement in air pollution control in Jakarta, showed that the city’s administration performance is below satisfactory. The ICEL research focused on two aspects: the supervision on mobile emission sources and supervision on immobile emission sources.
In the supervision of mobile emission sources, ICEL found that the Jakarta administration does indeed conduct emission test on producers and or importers. But publications related to the implementation of emission tests on new vehicle types were not available.
The report accessible to the public is limited to that on the implementation of conformity of production, that covers examination of samples of vehicles which had passed tests for new production every year. The Commission for the Elimination for Lead Gasoline however, said that this type of report had no longer been published since 2015.
Reports on the evaluation of compliance to vehicular gas emission also could not be found. What remained accessible are reports regarding the results of spot checks on emission but the information was also not contained in documents that could be routinely accessed by the public.
Also missing were public announcements, through the print or electronic media, regarding the results of emission tests even though the government is under the obligation of issuing such announcement at least once a year. The only exception was a recapitulation of emission tests in West Jakarta in 2017.
Based on an interview conducted by ICEL with the Jakarta Environmental Office, there is no special program to supervise compliance for non-moveable emission sources. There is only the obligation to obtain an environmental permit therefore the only other supervision of the obligation of non-moveable emission sources is based on complaint filed by the public.
This is why there is no information on the compliance level to the obligation set down in the law for all, such as the obligation to comply with the standard and or existing fuel specification.
The public demands strategy and action plan
The coalition is at present going through a legal process in court, having filed a Citizen Law Suit (CLS) against a number of parties, including the Governor of Jakarta, as part of its effort to improve the air of Jakarta.
The case was filed at the Central Jakarta district court, demanding that the government coordinates and comes out with a clear strategy and action plan to control air pollution.The government is also asked to open its emission data to the public, The Coalition is also pushing for the government to accelerate the revision of Government Regulation number 41 of 1999 on the air pollution control.
Gus Dur’s youngest daughter Inayah Wahid, and artist Melanie Subono are among the plaintiffs in this case. In their press briefing, Wahid and Subono saw the suit as a form of their concern and effort to demand that the government deals with the increasingly polluted air.
“We care. Therefore, we are asking that the government really seriously deals with the existing air pollution so that it does not claim victims, especially from among the vulnerable groups in the society,” Wahid said.
Subono said that air pollution was a fundamental problem that the government has to handle. “If merely breathing well is no longer a right for us as humans, then it is tantamount to the government killing its people in a massive way,” she said.
The indictment documents obtained by Ekuatorial, are demanding that the various government components come out with policies to improve air quality in Jakarta. Besides of the Governor of Jakarta, other defendants are the President, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of Health, the Governor of Banten and Governor of West Java,
The plaintiffs are demanding that the panel of judges declares the defendants guilty of violating fundamental human rights by having failed to meet the people’s right to a good and healthy environment.
They hope that the panel of judges orders the president to issue a revision of Government Regulation Number 41 of 1999 on Air Pollution Control which regulates inter-provincial air pollution control.
The president is also asked to tighten the national ambient air quality so as to protect the health of not only the people but also that of the environment and the ecosystem, including the health of a population that is sensitive, based on the advances in sciences and technology.
Specifically regarding the Governor of Jakarta, the plaintiffs are asking the panel of judges to order the governor to conduct supervision on compliance by all, to the laws and regulations concerning air pollution control and/or the requirements in environmental documents. The supervision should among others include periodical emission tests and reporting on the evaluation of the safe ceilings for gas emission from old vehicles.
LBH Jakarta lawyer Ayu Eza Tiara, who is part of the team of legal counsel for the defendants, aired hopes that the trial could be quickly be completed as it had already gone on for too long.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2019 and has been slow in its proceeding because the defendants often failed to appear in court. Even more so now, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.