Don't Make Me Laugh.
World Environment Day was celebrated yesterday in Indonesia under the theme: "Change in Climate, Beware of Environmental Disasters."
Most of us would say that a better theme might be "Change Mankind, Avoid Environmental Disasters."
If Indonesians want to know what the world thinks about their lack of thought when it comes to environmental protection, then look no further than the UK Daily Mail
which, not unreasonably, thinks that the Citarum could well be the World's Most Polluted River.More than 500 factories, many of them producing textiles which require chemical treatment, line the banks of the 200-mile river, the largest waterway in West Java, spewing waste into the water.
On top of the chemicals go all the other kinds of human detritus from the factories and the people who work there. There is no such luxury as a rubbish collection service here. Nor are there any modern toilet facilities. Everything goes into the river. The filthy water is sucked into the rice paddies, while families risk their health by collecting it for drinking, cooking and washing.
Twenty years ago, this was a place of beauty, and the river still served its people well.
(They) no longer try to fish. It is more profitable to forage for rubbish they can salvage and trade - plastic bottles, broken chair legs, rubber gloves - risking disease for one or two pounds a week if they are lucky.
Every year the Ministry of the Environment nominates recipients of Kalpataru Awards which are given to individuals and groups of people, who have done meritorious efforts to protect the environment.
So every year we learn of 12 individuals, mainly from the outer islands, who have worked within their communities to repair damage and to educate their neighbours in the best ways to provide a sustainable future. And they are to be saluted.
But what of the cities? They are given Adipuara Awards if they have managed to keep their environments clean.
If you live in or have ever visited Jakarta, would you believe that Jl. Sudirman, the capital's main thoroughfare, has been judged, in the urban facility category, to be the best street in the country?
I can only think that the individuals who made this crass judgement have had a police escort whilst using the exclusive busway lane to avoid the traffic jams, or maybe they drove along it at 2am when the street is empty. Or was it on one of those Sundays when Governor Sooty and his acolytes lead a mass jog-in having diverted the traffic?
And I can only think that they haven't used the busway and tried to get onto the sidewallk at, say, Sarinah or Atma Jaya University. The pedestrian bridges to access the buses, which are blocked with hawkers and beggars, take up most the sidewalk width and it's necessary to walk among the traffic. Other stretches of the sidewalk are driven along by motorcyclists, but, thankfully, not everywhere. Other stretches are riddled with broken stones and holes, rendering the act of walking a severe danger to limbs.
Whoever made this particular decision does not live in the same city as you or me.
Labels: Indonesia. Environment