Jakarta residents to sue government for poor air quality

20 environmentalists and 37 commoners will file a suit on June 18

By Pratik Sharma
Published: Wednesday 05 June 2019
A panoramic view of Jakarta. Photo: Getty Images
A panoramic view of Jakarta. Photo: Getty Images A panoramic view of Jakarta. Photo: Getty Images

The people of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, have decided to file a lawsuit against the government for the intense air pollution prevailing in the city.

On April 14, 2019, two local groups namely Legal Aid Institute (LBH) and Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) started a plaintiff’s complaint post, which they recently closed.

During this period, LBH Jakarta received 37 prospective plaintiffs from different backgrounds including students, teachers, private workers, entrepreneurs, advocates, researchers, civil servants, journalists, drivers, non-profit workers, IT specialists, policy consultants and retirees.

Out of the 37 plaintiffs, 14 are women and 23 men. They all have complaints about the problems they face due to Jakarta’s poor air quality, ranging from discomfort in open space activities to serious problems like cough, respiratory infections, asthma, shortage of breath and skin allergies.

The major pollutant that the people of Jakarta face is particulate matter (PM) 2.5. PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about three per cent the diameter of a human hair strand.

The official data released by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry states that the level of annual average PM2.5 has reached 34.57 mg/m3

This means that it is more than double the standard air quality index i.e. 15mg/m3. PM2.5 is considered to be very dangerous for human health because of the chemical compounds it is made up of.

Studies have found a close link between exposure to fine particles like PM2.5 and premature death from heart and lung disease. Fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

The 37 common citizens will be joined by 20 environmentalists, when they file a citizen lawsuit against the government at the Central Jakarta District Court on June 18.

LHB Jakarta is also planning to organise a series of activities to create awareness among people about the impact of poor air quality.

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