Sat, Feb 24, 2018 - Page 6 News List

River to be clean in seven years: Indonesia’s Widodo

Reuters, JAKARTA

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right, talks with a local military commander during a visit to Lake Cisanti — the source of the Citarum River — south of Bandung, Indonesia, on Thursday.

Photo: Antara Foto via Reuters

Indonesia’s president on Thursday said water from the Citarum River should be made drinkable within seven years under a new cleanup project for the Java Island river often ranked among the world’s most polluted.

Running 300km from a spring in West Java to the sea near the capital, Jakarta, the Citarum feeds three hydropower stations and is used for 400,000 hectares of rice paddies.

The Citarum Basin supports 28 million people, although the river is choked with household waste and polluted with dangerous levels of dyes and heavy metals pumped by factories into its tributaries.

“The Citarum River, which was once clear, is now the most polluted,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Twitter after visiting the source of the river in West Java on Thursday. “We are trying to clean it as quickly as possible and hopefully in seven years’ time it can be a source of drinking water.”

The government also plans to replicate the Citarum project in other basins that need cleaning, he said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$500 million loan to Indonesia in 2009 and initiated a 15-year plan for the cleanup.

ADB water specialist Eric Quincieu said the bank has financed US$41.9 million of that amount so far, spent on developing an “integrated water resources management road map” for the Citarum, among other items.

“There have been challenges in mobilizing support from local governments to implement [the road map],” Quincieu said in an e-mail, adding that the plan needed coordination between national and local governments, civil groups and the private sector.

Tubagus Haeru, an official at the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, which is overseeing the cleanup project, said previous attempts to clean the river had been expensive and had not worked.

“Ministries have been working by themselves, local governments working by themselves and the community has been working by itself,” Haeru told reporters.

The latest cleanup effort began earlier this month and involves police, military, government departments, organizations and the public in the 25 districts the river passes through.

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