Fri, 04 Jul 2003

Council to summon big-time polluters

The Jakarta Post, Bekasi

Concerned about water pollution in Bekasi, the municipal council said on Thursday it would summon the directors of companies, who allegedly broke their promise to install industrial waste processing facilities at their plants.

Councillors said the factories had promised to procure the equipment by June at the latest to prevent causing environmental problems in the surrounding area.

"About six months ago, the businessmen promised to buy the processing facilities by June. But, until now, none have procured them," said Nurul Yakin Setiabudi, a deputy speaker of Bekasi Council Commission B overseeing environmental affairs.

However, he declined to reveal the names of the companies in question.

"I don't need to reveal the names of the companies that have reneged on their promise, but I have reliable data on that," he was quoted by Antara as saying.

Yakin did not give a date for a hearing with his commission members.

The plan came in a response to recent protests from residents living in the areas close to the companies as their wells are being contaminated by waste produced by the factories.

However, none of the accused companies heeded the grievances of the protesting residents, most of whom still use ground water for daily consumption.

According to Yakin, most factories in Bekasi have not installed cesspool processing facilities.

He said that the company managements have to explain why their companies had not installed the required waste processing facilities.

"If they do not heed our warning, the council will recommend that the Bekasi administration close the factories. We don't want residents there to be victims of water pollution," he asserted.

Three months ago, a leather factory and a company producing refrigerator spare parts in Rawalumbu subdistrict were lambasted by local residents because their industrial waste polluted the area.

"I felt cheated by the leather tanning factory's owner who claimed such an industry would not pollute the environment. We soon found out otherwise," Yakin said.

He said the Commission B members also planned to conduct environmental assessments on several other factories in the municipality.