Jakarta – The Environment and Forestry Ministry has moved to shut down the operation of four companies alleged to be running activities that caused major pollution in the Greater Jakarta area.
The ministry's Environmental and Forestry Law Enforcement Director General Rasio Ridho Sani announced the decision on Wednesday with the order for the four companies to cease operation effective immediately.
The four companies are PT Wahana Sumber Rezeki and PT Unitama Makmur Persada both in Marunda, North Jakarta, PT Maju Bersama Sejahtera in Cakung, East Jakarta and PT Pindo Deli 3 in Karajan, West Java.
Rasio said the decision was made after the ministry launched a probe on the impacts of industrial activities on worsening air pollution in the Greater Jakarta area.
Starting Aug. 21, the ministry deployed 100 personnel to conduct surveys in six locations in Greater Jakarta, known to have a concentration of industrial activities. The areas are Marunda, Cakung and Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta, Pulo Gadung in East Jakarta, Bekasi and Karawang in West Java.
In the past few weeks, the government has been rushing to take action to address Greater Jakarta's air pollution problem amid public outcry over worsening air quality in the region.
Jakarta has consistently ranked among the 10 most polluted cities in the world since May. But last week, it topped global charts compiled by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, sparking heated debate.
Jakarta and its surrounding cities form a megalopolis of about 30 million people, and its airborne concentration of the tiny particles known as PM 2.5 recently surpassed other heavily polluted cities such as Riyadh, Doha and Lahore.
Activists blame the toxic smog on clusters of factories and coal-fired power plants near the capital, but the government has dismissed such claims, arguing that Jakarta's recent worsening air pollution was mainly due to weather and traffic.
Earlier this month, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo convened a limited meeting with several ministers and regional leaders to discuss short- and long-term strategies to tackle the issue.
In the press conference on Wednesday, the Environment and Forestry Ministry also proposed ways to curb pollution in the Greater Jakarta area, including the spraying of mist from tall buildings populating the region.
The ministry's Pollution and Environmental Problems Director General Sigit Reliantoro said more attempts should be made especially if the government-sponsored cloud-seeding efforts did not yield maximum results.
Sigit said that as the country was already in the midst of the dry season and with the effect of the El Nino weather pattern currently in full swing, it would be difficult to conduct a cloud-seeding experiment on a bigger scale.
"Weather modification technology should not only be in the form of pouring out more salt from an aircraft. On a micro-scale we can just spray water from the city's tall building," Sigit was quoted by Antara as saying.
Sigit said the ministry was currently making a list of buildings that could be suitable for this attempt.
The ministry would also enlist state-owned oil and gas firm PT Pertamina to execute the plan on the ground, given the company's experience in using the same method to fireproof their fuel storage facilities.