Industrial waste often causes environmental pollution impacts, as seen in the Cilemahabang River located in Karang Anyar village, Cikarang, Bekasi, West Java. The jet-black color of the river, fouled with an unpleasant and pungent smell, is thought to be due to the disposal of industrial waste not far from the river embankment. Even so, the residents of Karang Anyar village have to use the river water for their daily needs.
One of the residents, Enday, who lived near the river for several years, said that he had to use the cloudy river water because he did not have the money to dig a well. “This is our life. Inevitably we have to use this black river water for bathing, washing clothes, and watering plants,” she told the Independent Observer, Wednesday (9/9).
The use of polluted river water also makes many residents feel itchy to nauseous. “We catch scabies, children also sometimes have stomach pain after bathing. Maybe because they swallowed water while swimming,” said this 45-year-old woman who has lived with her family in the village for 9 years.
Clean water has become an expensive item for the villagers who live close to one of the largest industrial estates in Indonesia. Residents have to spend more to buy refilled water at outlets that sell it at a price of around IDR 5,000 per gallon. Dozens of families feel that they cannot afford to buy clean water during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most residents work as factory workers and farmers whose income is limited.
“If there is money, we want to dig a well. The solution has to be in the well and the cost must be high. If we only depend on clean water assistance from the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) which comes erratically, we can continue to have problems with clean water such as right now,” complained Ayud, 63, who has lived in the village since 1982.
Anun, who is also a resident of Karang Anyar village, said that the area used to be a large paddy field that was drained by the Cilemahabang River which was still clean and clear. “Maybe because more and more factories are being built, the river water here is slowly turning black and causing many diseases, such as skin diseases,” he concluded. (Aslam Iqbal)