“Indonesia’s Citarum: The World’s Most Polluted River”
Every day, no less than 20,000 tons of waste and 340,000 tons of wastewater, mostly from 2,000 textile factories, are disposed directly into the once clear and pristine waterways of the Citarum River. No wonder the fish are largely gone in the third-biggest river in Java.
To illustrate how dirty the Citarum River is, at some places we cannot even see the water. Its surface is completely covered by the unimaginable amount of waste, trash, and dead animals floating on it. If we are lucky enough to glimpse the water, we will see it is colored due to the excessive amount of toxic chemicals being dumped into the river by industries. Not surprisingly, since 2008, nearly 60 percent of the river’s fish species have been destroyed.
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Over the years, successive governments have vowed to clean the Citarum, but they mainly failed because such efforts were only partially done. However, in February, after visiting the location, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared a seven-year Citarum cleansing program with a final goal of making Citarum water drinkable by 2025. The program will also be supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), which in 2009 had already committed to provide $500 million to fund the Citarum’s rehabilitation.
(Dikanaya Tarahita and Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, The Diplomat, April 28, 2018)