Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Activists have lambasted the Central Jakarta District Court's decision to postpone the interlocutory hearing of the landmark air pollution lawsuit they filed against the government, citing the court's negligence in the case.
The activists, grouped under Gerakan Inisiatif Bersihkan Udara Koalisi Semesta (Coalition for the Clean Air Initiative) noted that the hearing had been delayed twice by the court's panel of judges within the past month.
The hearing was first scheduled to take place three weeks ago, but it was postponed until June 9 due to the Idul Fitri holiday. Then, the judges pushed it back by another two weeks "without any strong reason", the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The repeated postponement of the interlocutory hearing shows how public health issues are not prioritized in this country," a plaintiff, Melanie Subono, said as quoted in the statement.
The singer-activist further highlighted the prolonged process for the case settlement. "The case has been going on for one year [...] but our demand for clearer air has yet to be heard," she added.
The historic lawsuit was filed on July 4, 2019, by 32 citizens against seven state officials, namely the president of the Republic of Indonesia, the environment and forestry minister, the health minister, the home affairs minister and the governors of Jakarta, Banten and West Java.
The move was made in response to the severe air pollution in Jakarta, which stems mostly from vehicle emissions, factories and coal-fired power plants.
According to a 2017 Greenpeace report titled Jakarta's Silent Killer, eight coal-fired power plants operate within 100 kilometers of Jakarta, producing hazardous pollutants that affect the capital city.
Data show that Jakarta's air is contaminated by various pollutants, including PM 10, PM 2.5, SO2, O3, CO, NOx and Pb. From the list of the contaminators, activists have singled out PM 2.5, warning citizens that the particles in this category are so small that surgical masks cannot prevent them from entering the human lungs. The pollutant can cause serious respiratory problems if one is exposed to them over a long period of time.