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Realizing Citarum Harum

As a large river in the West Java Province, Citarum River has received its share of international attention. This was due to the pollution that occurs in the river, as the artery for the community. Slums, waste dumping into the water, industrial waste and livestock disposal, and unsustainable farming patterns are the main causes of pollution in Citarum. This chaotic condition also appears to have received less than comprehensive handling from the government.

This fact attracted the attention of the Regional Military Commander (Pangdam) III Siliwangi in 2017, Lieutenant General TNI Doni Monardo, who now serves as Secretary General of the National Defense Council (Wantannas), to act. Through the Citarum Harum program initiated in early 2018, the army along with the people join forces to repair the environmental damage in the Citarum area, starting from the springs and the tributaries downstream, including the three dams that stem the river.

TNI also invited various parties in support of the program, one of them being Parahyangan Catholic University (Unpar).

Given the importance of the participation of academics and practitioners in the synergy of preserving the nature of Citarum, the Center for Human Development and Social Justice (CHUDS) of Unpar’s Social Sciences Master Program held a seminar entitled “Framing the Involvement of Educational Institutions (Higher) in Citarum River Restoration”.

The event held on Wednesday (16/5) at the Mgr. Geise Lecture Theater Unpar was attended by participants from various circles of society such as the Regional Military Commander (Pangdam) III Siliwangi and his staff, Wantannas, representatives of Bandung diocese, academics from inside and outside Unpar, business representatives, environmentalists, activists, Don Bosco Padang high school Alumni, other audiences who share similar concern about the condition of Citarum.

Community synergy

In his presentation as the main speaker in the seminar, Doni explained the condition of Citarum and the urgency of the Citarum Harum Program implementation. The massive environmental damage caused by community, agricultural and industrial wastes has been proven through data collected by the Military District Command (Kodam) III Siliwangi.

Together with West Java Provincial Government, Doni who was then Commander of Kodam III Siliwangi mobilized elements of the army to cooperate with the community in cleaning Citarum to be fragrant again.

Every element of society, especially in West Java, should care and contribute to Citarum. “Those who help Citarum are the heroes of the nation, today and in the future,” said Doni who was applauded by the audience.

The seminar went on with the first session, “Empirical Information of Citarum Harum,” moderated by Unpar Rector Mangadar Situmorang Ph.D. This session was opened with the exposure of Pangdam III Siliwangi Major General Harto Karyawan related to the implementation of Citarum Harum Program to date. The success of TNI and people cleaning up Citarum from upstream to downstream has proven that West Java people’s dream is not impossible.

“Together we will return the scent of Citarum. Why? All can be done, all we can do, and all that I have to do, “thus the self- motivation to create Citarum Harum was delivered.

The first session was followed by three speakers from various fields. Antonius “Ipong” Harso Waluyo Witono, an environmental activist who is also Commissioner of PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII explained the danger of environmental damage in the upper reaches of the Citarum River due to unsustainable community farming behavior. The exposure was continued by Chairman of Bandung’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Iwa Gartiwa, which emphasized the importance of industrial involvement, including supervision of Wastewater Treatment Plant (IPAL) in order to preserve the Citarum. Finally, the founder of PT. Bio Alam Lestari Joko Sri Wisnu Murti provided solutions to overcome waste pollution through the use of communal WWTP.

University involvement

In the second session with the topic “Higher Education Involvement in Citarum Restoration” moderated by Dr. Stephanus Djunatan, three academics shared diverse perspectives.

The three academics were Professor Robertus Wahyudi Triweko, Professor I Gede Wenten, and Pius Suratman Kartasasmita Ph.D., who shared scientific views on multidimensional issues occurring in the Citarum River Region.

The success of Citarum Harum Program will not be sustainable without the involvement of all elements of West Java society, especially the real action taken by higher education institutions.

“Citarum is our common problem; Citarum is also our shared asset, “Mangadar said in a closing statement.

The Unpar Rector reiterated the slogan of Pangdam III Siliwangi, “We can, we should be!”


Source: Kompas Griya Ilmu (Tuesday, 5 June 2018)