Tragic State Of A Former Tropical Paradise
A shocking piece of news was published recently. A river which was considered to be a tropical paradise is now a hellish brew of discarded waste and toxic chemicals. Fishermen do not catch fish anymore as most of them are dead or contaminated. Even the inhabitants of the river banks are showing signs of toxic-substance related disease.
The Citarum River in Indonesia was known as a tropical paradise. Now it’s the dirtiest river in the world. The surface is so clogged with debris that in some places it does not look like a river at all, more like a landfill site.
The reasons for this are the usual suspects. The use of the far eastern countries as sweat shopping sources and administrative apathy. Over the years, hundreds of textile factories have grown up along the banks who supply most of the big names brands all over the world. They use the river to dispose of their untreated chemical and toxic wastes. They themselves are cut-price operations, so they can’t afford to employ proper waste disposal and pollution control.
A reporter form Channel 4 shot this poignant video which outline the pitiful conditions. He tell that 60% of the fish on this river are dead. Former fishermen eke out their lives by the floating garbage for recycling. It is common knowledge that the textile factories dump the chemicals in the river at night. Rules are being broken, but the authorities turn a blind eye.
More than 35 million people living on the banks of the Citarum use this water untreated for their daily needs. They themselves add to the pollution as about 95% of them do not have sanitation. The consequence: rising rate of cancer, skin diseases, slow development and mental illness among the children. In some villages the well-water contains more than four times the recommended level of mercury.
The reporter mentions that these textile factories are linked to high-street brands, but he does not mention any names. However, Greenpeace released a report last year which says that one of the largest manufacturers on the Citarum the PT Gistex Group has business relations with Gap, H&M and Adidas.
A familiar story all over the Far East. All is not lost for Citarum at least. Plans are afoot at the UN to restore the Citarum to its former glory by 2023. However, the biggest source is that the villagers are taking an active interest in stopping this uncontrolled pollution. Let’s wait and see.