World

Jakarta residents sue govt over severe air pollution

JAKARTA: Residents of Indonesia's capital yesterday filed a lawsuit against the government over the toxic levels of air pollution that regularly blankets the city.

Jakarta has been shrouded in hazardous smog for much of the past month, with high concentrations of harmful microscopic particles known as PM2.5.

Fed up with what they say is worsening air pollution, a group of 31 concerned residents has sued President Joko Widodo, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Health, and Jakarta's governor.

The plaintiffs, including activists, office workers and motorcycle taxi drivers, want to raise awareness about the issue and force the government to act.

"(The government) has neglected people's rights to breathe healthy air," lawyer Nelson Nikodemus Simamora told reporters after filing the lawsuit. "They have not maintained air quality at a level that is healthy enough for the 10 million people living here."

Toxic smog saw Jakarta ranked as the most polluted city in the world for several mornings last month, forcing residents to wear pollution masks and sparking a storm of social media criticism.

Air Visual, an independent online air quality index (AQI) monitor, pegged Jakarta at the "very unhealthy" level of 231 on June 25, higher than notoriously polluted cities like India's capital New Delhi and Beijing in China.

"As a mother of two, I am worried about the air pollution issue," 35-year-old office worker Dita Nadine told AFP.

"The government should address the cause of the problem... how long will we let this problem continue?"

The head of Jakarta's environment agency, Mr Andono Warih, played down the problem. - AFP

Environment