The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry yesterday said that it would appeal a Jakarta court ruling that found Indonesian President Joko Widodo, several ministries and top local officials guilty of environmental negligence over chronic air pollution.
Ruling on a citizen lawsuit on Thursday, judges found senior officials were culpable in failing to prevent, monitor and control unhealthy pollution levels in and around the capital.
Jakarta, a sprawling metropolis of more than 30 million people, is Southeast Asia’s most polluted city, according to a report last year by the air quality monitoring organization IQAir.
Indonesian Air Pollution Management Director Dasrul Chaniago confirmed that an appeal would be made against the decision.
He said the court ordered the ministry to monitor air quality and emissions, actions that he said had been undertaken since 2011 in Jakarta and other cities, such as Banten and Bandung.
Widodo’s spokesman Fadjroel Rachman said that his office would defer to the ministry on whether to appeal.
Lawyers for the 32 plaintiffs had argued that authorities had failed to protect citizens, pointing to scientific research that air pollution could cause asthma and heart disease, and lower life expectancy.
Rapid urbanization and chronic congestion in Jakarta, plus nearby coal-fired power plants, have contributed to the poor air quality, the Center on Energy and Clean Air said.
The verdict was welcomed by Jakarta authorities.
“We understand the lawsuit is part of citizens’ rights to a healthy environment and part of collaborative action to work together for better air quality,” said Irvan Pulungan, a climate change adviser to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
“We honor the verdict and will continue working on our efforts, and working with the plaintiff and all stakeholders,” he said.
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