( Fox News ) – Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and the giant archipelago of over 15,000 islands. Unfortunately, most of the country’s richest residents live in it, mainly the elites and government.
Demographics are shifting though, Jakarta is fast becoming the headquarters of the country’s population as more and more Indonesians move in to the west and south of the capital to the larger cities.
The problem is that most of these cities have added thousands of acres of new buildings to their population in recent years and pollution levels have soared. Jakarta is what is known as an “ecosystem city” and the greatest example in the world of extreme ‘wilderness’ style development and infrastructure being built within the boundaries of a man-made cityscape.
A new study is now being carried out by investigative journalist Ari Marwoto to see what the most polluted areas in Jakarta actually are and to try and get leaders of Jakarta to consider it before they build more.
Minister of Mines, Coal and Steel Ignasius Jonan in Jakarta said, “We are always making efforts to reduce pollution. The reason we talk about new (particulate matter) emission scheme is the emissions we had not been able to control and have been worsening in the past year, since the first phase of implementation.”
Parliament has now called for Jakarta’s Chief Minister Adi Hariyanto to submit his full report on the ambient air quality by January 1st next year. No concessions will be made for the fastest growing country in Asia.
The latest UN list shows that Indonesia, with a population of 260 million, is the world’s fifth biggest emitter of air pollution and produces 25% of the world’s toxic sulfur dioxide emissions. If that trend continues – Indonesia will pass India in just ten years to become the world’s biggest emitter of particulate matter.
And some of Jakarta’s most developed areas are experiencing a growing problem of contaminated water. Air quality there is the worst in Southeast Asia.
Jakarta’s senior citizens were laid off at the height of the global financial crisis, when many of their jobs disappeared and their retirement savings no longer made sense, so many are now finding their bank accounts virtually untouched while living off government handouts.
Their homes and shops are all powered by electricity stolen from utilities, and not very efficient one might add. Nearly every major city, including Jakarta, is forced to import oil and gas due to a lack of local energy supply.
One thing remains constant, Jakarta’s water crisis is worse than ever. Most of Jakarta’s water comes from wells but those wells are being dug into sand that doesn’t deliver enough water to keep up with rapidly growing populations. It’s also been blamed for outbreaks of dengue fever.
Ahmad Hannington is Jakarta’s city engineer. “The water supply is affected (because of pollution), it’s impacting on water and is not available,” he said. “That’s the main reason why we’re investing a lot more on water project (contributing to the decision to change from) old to new water pumps.”
Ahmad is one of the men behind the plan to turn 500 acres of a low-lying local lake into a reservoir. Jakarta’s government will build a $29 million concrete swimming pool to replace the failed sewer system, a 54-story-high tower that can drain any water into the reservoir, and two water treatment plants to treat the water. A huge tanker will deliver drinking water to households instead of flowing straight into the lake.
The recent agreement also covers the natural occurrence of smog, which is now sweeping in from neighboring Singapore. This air pollution has driven haze that covers large parts of Indonesia, including the capital, to levels not seen since the early 2000s.
Both Ahmad and the city’s district environmental official Johan in Batu say that in this generation they will be forever able to write in their books. Ahmad adds “People in the middle to the working class are feeling more neglected (because) of the environment problems we are facing.”
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