Japan and China eye for a stake in the cleanup of the world’s dirtiest river in Indonesia

Japan and China are competition head-to- head for a stake in Indonesia’s most ambitious environmental project to date – that is to clean up the Citarum River dubbed the world’s dirtiest river in Indonesia, The Jakarta Post Online reported on Monday.

Estimated at 297-km long, Citarum is the third longest river in Indonesia’s most populated island of Java after Bengawan Solo in Central Java and Brantas in East Java.

For decades, human and business activity such as thousands of textile factories and millions of households have been dumping untreated liquid waste into the river.

“We are very happy to open opportunities to all parties (to participate in the Citarum’s rehabilitation project),” said Safri Burhanuddin, the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister’s undersecretary for human resources, science and technology and maritime culture, in recent interview.

To achieve the rehabilitation of Citarum River, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has set an ambitious goal. He wants to make the river’s water “very clean” by 2025, having established in February a programme called Citarum Harum (Fragrant), which will run for seven years. The cost is yet to be calculated.

The successful implement of the project will be a boon for about 30 million people living near the river, spanning from Bandung in West Java to Jakarta. They depend on the river for water supply, hydropower and farming. Most of Jakarta’s raw water supply for tap water came from the Jatiluhur Dam which captures water from Citarum.

In 2013, the Asian Development Bank and World Bank estimated the cost to treat domestic waste at RP 14 trillion while industrial waste stood at Rp 1.6 trillion over 10 years. The financial benefit of the cleanup was estimated at RP 2.1 trillion per year.

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