Java, the center of the Indonesia, where Citarum River resides and has once been called the world’s most polluted river. There are about 5 million people who live along the Citarum river and are directly impacted by it.
“Rahmat is one of hundreds of scavengers who ply the river, gathering plastic bottles and aluminum cans for recycling. When he came to Bandung in the early 1970s to work at an embroidery mill, the river, he says, ran clean and clear. As the textile industry grew, Rahmat watched the water grow darker and dirtier by the year with wastewater from the factories. Today, he says, he feels guilty about his old job and what the textile mills have done to the river.” (2017)
Citarum River was once used for industrial chemicals testing ground. Greenpeace tested the waters and found environmental contaminants and toxic chemicals. They also investigated into PT Gistex Textiles Division - whose parent company PT Gistex Group supplies Gap, H&M and Adidas - found that their effluent contained an array of hazardous chemicals. “Over 200 textile factories line the river banks. The dyes and chemicals used in the industrial process - lead, arsenic and mercury amongst them - are churned into the water, changing its colour and lending the area an acrid odour.” (2014)
Even though only a small part of Java lives along the river, there are still over…
30 million people
… who rely on the Citarum River for agriculture, bathing and personal use.