Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Independent body needed to control environmental damage

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Tangerang Municipality and Regency Environmental Analysis Forum (Forklipt) called on the administrations and public in both areas to set up an independent body to control environmental damage, allegedly caused by many companies.

The body is also expected to become a mediator in resolving environmental disputes between the accused companies, and the administrations and people living around the factories.

Forklipt director Karya Ersada gave his response on the news that the Tangerang regency administration would take 25 companies to court over allegations of damage to the environment.

The administration accused the companies, which already have water treatment plants, of allegedly dumping their liquid waste into rivers, thereby inflicting environmental damage on people living nearby.

Karya said over the weekend that the instances of environmental damage in both Tangerang regency and municipality had increased but so far the public had not participated in addressing the problem.

He also said that the establishment of an independent body would encourage the public to become involved in monitoring and solving the current problems.

"Whenever environmental damage cases have been taken to court, the companies are only penalized if they are found guilty (of damaging the environment), but the public, which has always suffered from the damage, never receives anything in compensation," he said.

Regency environmental agency supervision and control division head Cecep Suhendar said that there was no such body in the regency.

He also suggested that a body should be established by the public instead of the administration, to ensure its independence.

"Many companies have damaged the environment, causing suffering to the public. We, the officials, are really annoyed at their action," he said.

Data shows that around 700 companies in the municipality and 1,013 in the regency allegedly dump liquid waste into the Cisadane, Cirarab and Cimanceuri rivers.