Jakarta – Judges with the Bale Bandung District Court in West Java found PT Kamarga Kurnia Textile Industry (KKTI) guilty of polluting a section of the Citarum River, the longest and dirtiest river in the province.
The bench ruled in favor of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, which filed the lawsuit against the company for its lack of commitment in processing the hazardous and toxic waste (B3) produced by its factory on Jl. Cibaligo in Cimahi, West Java.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the ministry reported the panel of judges, presided over by Firza Andriyansyah, ordered KKTI to pay compensation of Rp 4.25 billion (US$301,000) for polluting the river. The amount, however, was less than the Rp 18.2 billion demanded by the ministry.
The ministry's law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said he appreciated the judges' decision and thanked the expert witnesses and prosecutors who assisted his team in handling the case.
"Law enforcement against companies polluting the Citarum River Basin is our commitment to realize Citarum Harum," Rasio said in the statement, referring to the government's program to revitalize the 270-kilometer-long river that has become polluted by household garbage and waste from textile factories.
He added that he hoped the punishment for KKTI would be a lesson for other companies, adding that the ministry would not stop going after polluters through either criminal charges or noncriminal lawsuits.
"Even if they polluted [the river] years ago, we will still prosecute them. We can track down and find evidence with the support of experts and technology," said Rasio.
The ministry's environmental dispute settlement director, Jasmin Ragil Utomo, said the ministry had also sued three other textile factories for polluting the Citarum River basin.
The three companies are PT Kawi Mekar, the case of which was settled in the Bale Bandung District Court, PT United Color Indonesia, the trial of which is still ongoing at the same court, and PT How Are You Indonesia, which is waiting for a ruling from the North Jakarta District Court.
The Citarum River supplies water to Greater Jakarta and irrigates rice farms in Karawang, West Java that produce 5 percent of Indonesia's rice supply. It is also the source of power for three hydroelectric plants that can generate a total of 1,400 megawatts of electricity.
Yet, domestic and industrial waste has been dumped into it for a long time, prompting international observers to list the Citarum as one of the world's 10 most polluted places in 2013 for its alarming levels of toxic chemicals.
The government has set up a restoration and clean-up program for the river. However, the program has been hindered by a lack of funding and law enforcement. (syk)