The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Jakarta administration has stepped up its efforts to improve the water quality of the Ciliwung River, which passes along the capital, as much-anticipated cooperation with neighboring cities to mend the river has been ineffective.
The administration is currently attempting to develop eco-tourism in the Ciliwung's upstream riverbank areas from Kelapa Dua in East Jakarta to Pejaten in South Jakarta.
"The eco-tourism project is still limited in the capital. We hope our neighboring authorities can follow (the project) so as to upgrade the water quality of the river," said Ridwan Panjaitan, head of the City Environmental Management Body's pollution control unit, on Saturday.
He said the program would empower residents living close to the Ciliwung's riverbanks to clean their portions of land.
"By doing so, there will no longer be people dumping waste into the river," he said.
He said the eco-tourism concept could also be developed in upstream areas because populations there were not as dense as downstream.
The program will be implemented in 13 neighborhoods in Srengseng Sawah and Lenteng Agung, both in South Jakarta, and in Tanjung Barat in East Jakarta. It will push for better sanitation, more efficient spatial planning and reforestation.
Ridwan said the program was developed in partnership with the University of Indonesia and Trisakti University.
"We will also involve figures who have succeeded in promoting clean and green concepts, such as Pak Chaeruddin, who will then turn Pesanggarahan River into a clean eco-tourism area," he said.
A waterway project is also on the way for the Ciliwung's downstream areas from Karet in Central Jakarta to the Manggarai watergate in South Jakarta.
The 4.2-kilometer waterway project aims to resolve long-standing transportation snags in the capital.
The City Transportation Agency earlier said that the pilot waterway project would begin in June. The administration has already setup three small ports along the route.
The Ciliwung river is one of the largest rivers passing through the capital. However, the river's water is now severely polluted.
Many claim the presence of people living illegally along the river's 117-kilometer bank is the main source of pollution for the Ciliwung.
The government has designated four levels of river water quality for the Ciliwung. Level one indicates that the water is potable and good to be used raw.
In Bogor, the river's water quality has been graded as level two, which means it can be used only for recreational activities. After passing the Condet area in East Jakarta, the Ciliwung's water quality falls to level four.
The government said it would need five years to upgrade the water quality by only one level.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to sign the decree on the management of the Ciliwung River by the end of the year.
The Jakarta, Banten and West Java administrations had earlier agreed to jointly rehabilitate the three big rivers that are the provinces' main sources of water -- the Ciliwung, Cisadane and Citarum rivers.