Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Pollution of the Jakarta Bay has caused great concern for people aware of the extent of damage it could cause to the public health especially of the future`s generation.

More hazardous is pollution by plastic garbage, which is not easily degraded or decomposed. It would take tens even hundreds of years for plastic to be decomposed as against only days for banana peels, an expert has said.

Comprehensive planning, therefore, is necessary to clean the Jakarta Bay especially from plastic garbage to protect the ecology from disaster in the future .

Former Minister of Environment Emil Salim addressing expert discussion at the Jakarta Convention Hall earlier this month called for serious commitment to bringing to reality a vision that in 2030 the sea water in the Jakarta Bay could be used as a source for fresh water fit for human and industrial consumption.

Emil cited a number of steps that could be taken for that purpose including construction of offshore reservoirs and by cleaning the 13 rivers emptying into the bay in addition to effective treatment of garbage especially plastic garbage.

He said Indonesia is the second largest producer of plastic garbage in the world after China.

He expressed appreciation for the program announced two years earlier by the Minister of the Environment and Forestry banning the use of plastic bags for merchandise by hypermarkets and supermarkets.

Plastic garbage could be recycled to be economically valuable or as a source of income instead of throwing it into the rivers or the sea, he said.

Emil called for the organization of a movement of communities mainly the grass roots to clean the Jakarta Bay from waste, mainly plastic garbage.

Expert staff of the Marine and Fisheries Minister for Ecology and Sea Resources Aryo Hanggono said the government has a commitment to cleaning the sea including the Jakarta Bay from plastic garbage.

Currently, a draft presidential decree is being prepared to regulate the cleaning of the sea from plastic garbage. The regulation calls for coordinated action between the central government and regional administrations in cleaning the sea and rivers or lakes with target of reducing plastic garbage by 70% in 2025.

Aryo cited a comparison that banana peel would entirely be decomposed in two weeks, but plastic bags could take 10-20 years to be decomposed and plastic bottles could even take hundreds of years.

He said a number of studies said that unless concrete steps are taken, in 2025 the Indonesian waters would be a pool of garbage and fish at a ratio of one to three. In 2050 , garbage could exceed the fish stock in volume, he added.

Therefore, he calls on the Jakarta city administration tobe more serious in cleaning the Jakarta Bay from garbage.

A public movement should be organized to carry out the program to discourage the use of plastic bags such as for merchandise by using paper bags instead.

Buying and recycling plastic garbage such as used plastic bottles from the people could also help reduce plastic garbage thrown into the rivers or the sea.

Jakarta`s vice governor Sandiaga Uno said that the sea in the Thousand Islands in the Jakarta Bay needs serious addressing or pollution could cause a disaster for the future generation.

Sandiaga said the burden of preserving the environment has been put only on the government while the largest contributor to the pollution is the private sector. He called on the business sector to take part in preserving a healthy environment in the capital city.

Director General of Garbage, Waste and Dangerous Poisonous Materials of the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry Rosa Vivien Ratnawati warned of serious health hazard caused by environmental pollution.

Rosa said those responsible for environmental pollution could face criminal charge.

The authorities supervising garbage treatment , the Environment and Forestry Minister, Governors, and Regents could face criminal charges for negligence that causes loss of life, she said.

She said the government is preparing a draft regulation on garbage treatment, facilities and infrastructure to support implementation of the regulation .

Meanwhile, non governmental organizations (NGO) Yayasan Keanekaragaman Hayati Indonesia also warned of the serious problem caused by plastic garbage, poisoning the aquatic creatures, which are partly for human consumption.

Executive Director of the foundation MS Sembiring said plastic garbage could cause big dent in the sea ecosystem, polluting the sea, poisoning the aquatic creatures and damaging the ridge of rock.

The garbage is brought to the sea mainly through rivers from Jakarta and other cities upstream. He said there are 13 rivers in Jakarta emptying into the Jakarta Bay. Sembiring said Jakarta and nearby areas produce around 7,000 tons of garbage per day.

Based on data from the Directorate General of Control of Pollution and Environmental Damage and Forestry, households are the largest contributors to pollution in the Jakarta Bay.

Therefore it is urgent that serious action should begin as early as possible to prevent the threat from more devastating to living things in the sea.


Reporter: Muhammad Razi Rahman/A. Saragi
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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