Debate over dirtiest cities
The Indonesian cities of Bandar Lampung, Bekasi and Malang hit the news recently—all for the wrong reasons. The Environment Ministry received sharp criticism from locals in Bandar Lampung and West Java's city of Bekasi for declaring both cities as the dirtiest in Indonesia. The statement was made in conjunction with the s Adipura Environmental Awards for Indonesia's cleanest cities—one of which was bestowed to the city of Malang, to the shock of environmental organizations in East Java.
The organizations were stunned that a city renowned for destroying forested regions in the past decade had received an environmental award, pointing out that the awards were once again being used by the Ministry as a public relations exercise, rather than encouraging better management of the environment.
"The forested regions of Malang and the city's sporting field have been converted into a mall," said Purnawa Dwikora, coordinator of East Java's Indonesian Forum for the Environment or Walhi. "The Taman Kunir Park has been converted into a subdistrict office. The greenbelt region in Malang, which includes Jalan Langsep and Jalan Jakarta, has had its functions converted. How did Malang earn this Adipura award?" He accused the Malang administration of being in violation of the 2007 Spatial Planning Law, which mandates that every province must dedicate at least 30 percent of its total land to green space. "Only 1.8 percent of Malang—which is 110.6 kilometers per square meter—is green space!"
Meanwhile, residents of Bandar Lampung and Bekasi were up in arms at being labelled as citizens of Indonesia's dirtiest cities, and demanded that this "title" was immediately revoked. Oddly, the Environment Ministry conceded - it publicly claimed the Adipura Examination Board never really gave out the 'Dirtiest City' title. The board, led by Sarwono Kuwumaatmadja, said the two cities only "received the lowest scores in their environmental assessment."
The term 'Dirtiest City' was indeed, not the official term used. The Adipura Board only lists cities based on an index, which ranks them from the cleanest to the dirtiest and most disorganized. The Adipura award is intended to encourage cities to improve their cleanliness. The Adipura Board should not be hesitant in giving low rankings to cities that are dirty. The purpose is not to discredit the cities but to remind city administrators and residents to improve their environment. The Adipura Board should not yield easily to objections from cities that are ranked poorly by the board. Objections are accepted but the board must be consistent with its assessment.
By Eko Widianto (East Java), Rafika Aulia (Jakarta), Koran Tempo
No. 43/12, June 20, 2012