The poor air quality is choking the city of Jakarta. Photo: YouTube

At least 57 residents of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, have joined forces to file a lawsuit against the government over the city’s poor air quality.

The residents, known as the Capital Advocacy Team, will be represented by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) with the lawsuit to be filed at the Central Jakarta District Court on June 18, The Straits Times reported.

Ayu Eza Tiara, an attorney with LBH Jakarta, said the suit will be addressing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the Minister for Environment and Forestry and the governors of Jakarta, Banten and West Java.

Twenty of the 57 plaintiffs are environmentalists and the rest are civilians from different backgrounds, including students, teachers and white collar workers. They all signed up for the suit on their own accord when it was being set up in April. The plaintiffs would like authorities to take action in addressing air pollution by incorporating stricter policies.

Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Bondan Andriyanu said the government had been using a 1999 regulation to regulate air pollution. He pointed out that the regulation was outdated and needed an update as air pollution has become significantly worse.

The PM2.5 levels were found to be above the WHO safe omit of 10 micrograms per cubic meters. Jakarta can hit 34.5 MCG/Cubic meters and that could be detrimental to the health of the public, especially children.

Apart from vehicles in the city, Greenpeace pointed out that the poor air quality was also caused by power plants in the city fuelled by coal. Emissions from the plants form 33% to 36% of the air pollution in the capital.

Eight coal-fired power plants operate within 100km of Jakarta, which pollute the air of the city.

The plaintiffs have suffered in different ways due to the poor air quality. Some suffer from sinusitis only when they visit Greater Jakarta, while others run out of breath from inhaling too much carbon and other bad particles.

Nur Hidayati, the director of the NGO Indonesian Forum for the Environment, cited Article 28H of the 1945 Constitution about the right to live in a healthy environment. She stated that the government has a responsibility to provide clean air for the citizens to breathe.

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