Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Complaints on dirty river go unheeded

Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor

Hundreds of villagers in Leuwiliang district, Bogor, have suffered from scabies after using water from the Cikaniki River to bathe.

The villagers are forced to use water from the river because of a water shortage in the area.

"I am very angry about the state of the river, but I have to use water from the river because I can't draw any water from my well," said Nisah, 40.

"The adults can deal with the scabies, but the children cannot sleep at nights because of the itching," she said.

Zulaeha, who runs the Nurul Iman Islamic boarding school, said the situation was disrupting the school.

"After washing plates in the river, there are always yellowish spots on them. And my students cannot sleep at night because they itch all over their bodies from the scabies," she said.

The villagers allege that the river has been polluted by liquid waste from the PT Bentonit paint factory.

Officials at the factory could not be reached for comment.

Suri, 42, the head of community unit 05 in Parungsinga subdistrict, said villagers had filed official protests with the management of PT Bentonit, but had not received a positive response.

However, Leuwiliang district head Tedy Tembang said he had not received any reports of pollution caused by the factory.

He said the factory's liquid waste treatment facility was in good condition and operated properly.

He said officials from the district and Bogor regency environmental offices had inspected the factory's liquid waste treatment facility.

"I have no idea why villagers are complaining about the alleged pollution of the river," Tedy said.