Multiple task forces make little dent on Jakarta air pollution

Buildings are seen amid the haze caused by the air pollution in Jakarta on Aug. 23, 2023. - AFP

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The three task forces formed by the relevant authorities to curb air pollution in Jakarta have made little progress in improving the city’s air quality despite their various efforts over the past few weeks.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry established the first task force on Aug 18, assigned to identify pollutant sources in Greater Jakarta and enforce laws on industries and individuals found guilty of failing to control their emissions.

Two weeks later, the Jakarta administration formed its own task force to control pollution within the city’s jurisdiction through efforts like launching vehicle emissions tests, improving the quality of the public transit fleet and opening more green spaces in the city.

The Jakarta Police later also set up their own task force, under Coordinating Maritime and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan who was appointed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to lead efforts to tackle air pollution in the capital.

Among the police task force’s duties were the inspection of polluting factories and conducting emissions tests on vehicles in the city. However, Jakarta’s air quality has barely improved since these task forces started working.

The daily air quality between Aug 28 and Tuesday was consistently ranked as “unhealthy”, according to the Air Quality Index (AQI) monitoring conducted by Swiss air quality tech company IQAir.

It uses data curated from 26 air-quality sensor stations across the city, owned by government institutions, private companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals.

According to IQAir, the daily concentration of PM2.5 fine pollutant particles ranged between 38.8 and 77.7 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³), higher than the 15 µg/m³ safe threshold from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Whether these multiple task forces worked effectively in curbing pollution would require them to be transparent on data that show air quality improvements over the capital, said Satya Budi, programme manager of the World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia’s Clean Air Catalyst initiative.

“The task force should show us the data of air quality before and after they enact pollution-control policies,” Satya said, adding that the public would be able to see for themselves if the data were more accessible.

Tackling air pollution, he continued, required coordinated efforts among multiple ministries to avoid overlapping duties. Satya cited the government’s Covid-19 task force as an example, as it encompassed almost all ministries and state institutions.

Climate scientist lecturer Rista Hernandi Virgianto of the College of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (STMKG) said the recent chronic air pollution in Jakarta was likely a result of the drier air during the dry season, causing pollutants to easily accumulate in the atmosphere.

Air pollution-control measures might be more effective if enforced before the dry season had already kicked in and piled up the pollutants in the air, he said.

Environment and Forestry Ministry Law Enforcement Director General Rasio Ridho Sani, who heads the ministry’s task force, said his team would continue to work on improving air quality according to the Air Pollution Standard Index (ISPU) rather than other measurements.

The ISPU is an air quality standard set by the ministry based on the concentration of several pollutants in the air, including PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide and sulfur oxide. The index has five levels, including “good” if the ISPU is below 50 PSI, “unhealthy” with 101-199 PSI and “dangerous” if it reaches beyond 300 PSI.

Rasio claimed that only six of 15 ISPU stations installed across the city had recorded “unhealthy” air.

He also asserted that there were times when none of the stations recorded “unhealthy” air quality.

The Jakarta Environment Agency had cast doubt over the accuracy of data gathered by sensors installed by private parties, accusing them of “creating confusion” as their equipment had yet to be “calibrated by the environment ministry,” as reported last week.

The agency claimed it had coordinated with the police to take down these privately owned sensors.

The agency head Asep Kuswanto said on Monday that the environment ministry would issue a regulation on the national standard for air-quality sensors so they could get more accurate data, reported.

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Indonesia , air , pollution , Jakarta


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