Mon, 25 Aug 2003

Cottage industry on trial

In response to the news on the trial of eight villagers for polluting the environment, as carried in the Suara Pembaruan, newspaper on Aug. 20, 2003, I contacted the village head of Cinangka, Ciampea district, Bogor, for more information. Titin Sukanta, the village chief, explained to me that the eight people had been recycling and reprocessing lead from used batteries to eke out a living, and actually knew nothing about the law.

I sympathize with these ordinary people who were just working the best they could to survive by what they thought were acceptable means. In my view, the office of the state minister of the environment should provide information and guidance for small-scale entrepreneurs such as these, in addition to taking action against violators.

Titin also said the defendants had never received any warning in writing from the authorities and she hoped to be able to put together a team of attorneys that could help acquit the villagers.

As a member of the Foundation for Education and Development of Pancasila University, Jakarta, I will request the dean of this university's school of law that a defense counsel be made available for this purpose.

It is true that lead pollution is hazardous to health. I will seek the help of the school of pharmacy to eliminate gas (SO2) and salt (PbSO4) pollution so that the small-scale/cottage industry businesspeople can safely recycle lead from the millions of used batteries.