Change your device to Potrait Mode



Evolution of Citarum River

Having flowed through “Bumi Pasundan” (a nickname for West Java) for thousands of years. Citarum has evolved from a blessing for locals to a source of disaster. Can it be transformed into a blessing again?

The Dolphin II team, which has a rowing sportsman from the Jakarta PON IX team, came out as the winner of the 1977 Citarum Rafting Race II. The competition took Rajamandala-Bayabang and Warung Jeruk-Bendungan Jatiluhur route.
Kompas/Totok Poerwanto
Towards the closing of part of the Citarum River segment due to the operation of Cirata Power Plant, the group of nature lovers, Wanadri, Bandung, held a kind of "farewell" with a rafting event in August 1987.
Kompas/Nugroho F Yudho

The Cirata hydropower plant, with total power of 8 x 126 megawatt, was inaugurated by President Soeharto together with the Mrica and Sengguruh hydropower plants in Central Java on March 25, 1989. At the time, the total capacity of power plants across Indonesia was only 8,000 MW.

Water is poured into Saguling Dam in Bandung regency. On the symbolic pushing of a button, the diversion tunnel on Saguling Dam is symbolically closed by West Java Governor HA Kunaefi, February 15, 1985.
Kompas/Her Suganda
Ten years after the Jatiluhur Dam construction was completed, the government started building irrigation culverts on the river’s downstream region in Karawang and Bekasi, September 27, 1977.
Kompas/Kartono Ryadi

Construction of the Jatiluhur Dam began after the government decided to add a dam to the Citarum River in 1957. The construction project was completed 10 years late. President Soeharto inaugurated the dam in August 1967. At that point, agriculture fields belonging to thousands of residents of Jatiluhur district vanished.

Some 8,300 hectares of agriculture field in the area was sacrificed to create an artificial lake that contains three billion cubic-meter of water. Since then, the Jatiluhur dam has proven to be a boon for farmers in the Citarum’s downstream and a reliable source of electricity for people in Bandung and Jakarta.

Construction of the end of a tunnel to divert Citarum River’s water flow began on May 12, 1984. The tunnel would later be used as a diversion tunnel on Cirata hydropower plant.
Kompas/Markus Duan Allo
The Saguling hydropower plant with a total power of 700 megawatt derives its power from Citarum River’s water flow. President Soeharto inaugurated the Saguling hydropower plant and dam on July 24, 1986.
Kompas/Bambang Sukartiono

The Saguling hydropower plant with a total power of 700 megawatt, was inaugurated by President Soeharto on July 24, 1986. “We need to think of ways to prevent waste and erosion from local fields from disrupting the dam,” President Soeharto said.

In Mekarsari, Baleendah, Bandung regency, local houses are inundated by 20-30 centimeters of water. Some residents are staying at evacuation tents. Photo was taken on January 20, 1984.
Kompas/FX Puniman
Continuous rain on Citarum River’s upstream led to inundation on Andir sub-district, Bandung regency, on January 16, 1984. Flooding on Citarum’s upstream had occurred since January 12, 1984.
Kompas/FX Puniman

Flooding in Mekarsari, Baleendah, Bandung regency, is an annual occurrence. However, in late 2018, the flooding in Mekarsari was estimated to have been reduced due to the operation of a retention pool in Cieunteung, Baleendah district.

Strong coordination is needed to protect Citarum. A number of groups, including clerics and religious leaders, community figures and cultural observers will be involved in the Citarum Harum (Redolent Citarum) program.
‘- III/Siliwangi regional military commander Maj. Gen. Doni Monardo.’
(Kompas, December 30, 2017)
Lush forest on Mt. Tilu nature reserve on the Citarum watershed areas in West Java on March 25, 2010. Agricultural fields and residential zones are beginning to surround the nature reserve.
III/Siliwangi regional military commander Maj. Gen. Doni Monardo (second right) checked on tree seedlings to be used in a reforestation activity on Citarum’s riverbank in Tarumajaya village, Kertasari district, Bandung regency, January 27, 2018.
Kompas/Benediktus Krisna Yogatama
Farmers in Tarumajaya village, Kertasari district, Bandung regency, West Java, planted pine tree seedlings on Mt. Wayang at Citarum River’s upstream to contribute to environmental preservation, December 22, 2013.
Kompas/Haris Firdaus

From Tarumajaya village in Kertasari district, Bandung regency, West Java, Citarum’s water flows hundreds of kilometers away until it reaches Java Sea. From Tarumajaya, Citarum’s cleanliness must be preserved. We should not dream about a Redolent Citarum when its upstream region is heavily damaged.

Locals in Cihea village, Haur Wangi district, Cianjur regency, West Java, sun-dried their crops on Citarum riverbank on July 31, 2008.
Kompas/Agus Susanto
Idah plants cassava on Citarum’s exposed riverbed in Cadasari village, Tegalwaru district, Purwakarta regency, West Java, on March 25, 2011. Damage on the Citarum riverbank often leads to reduced water flow.
Kompas/Lucky Pransiska
Citarum river supports the local economy. Locals place floating fish cages on the Citarum River ahead of the Saguling Dam in Maroko, Bandung regency, West Java, on Thursday (4/1/2018).
Kompas/Rony Ariyanto Nugroho

“There should not be any fish cultivation in CItarum as the water is poisoned by toxic and dangerous chemical substances,” Indonesian Aquaculture Society’s Muhamad Husen said in Bandung on Friday (5/1/2018). However, the fact remains that thousands of fishes from Jatiluhur and Cirata dam are sold every day in Jakarta and West Java.

The two dams are now filled with floating fish cages. Cirata dam should only contain 12,000 floating fish cages but 70,000 such cages were found there on Saturday (6/1). Meanwhile, Jatiluhur should only contain 6,000 floating fish cages but now has 24,000 such cages. Is there any solution for this uncontrolled growth?

Locals pull on a fish net from the mud flowing in Citarum River that splits Cihea village, Haurwangi district, Cianjur regency, West Java, on March 1, 2009.
Kompas/Agus Susanto
Edi, 42, of Pasirjambu village, Maniis district, Purwakarta regency, West Java, sells big jambal roti (dry-salted catfish) weighing over five kilograms caught by local fishermen in Cirata dam on May 15, 2012.
Kompas/Mukhamad Kurniawan
Citarum’s wild fishes are sold by the road near Cirata dam in Cadasari village, Tegalwaru district, Purwakarta regency, West Java, on June 16, 2011.
Kompas/Dedi Muhtadi
A number of Greenpeace activists protest toxic waste pollution in the Citarum River through Curug Jompong in Jelegong village, Bandung regency, West Java, on September 13, 2012.
Kompas/Rony Ariyanto Nugroho

“It is easy to fight factories and industry that pour their waste to Citarum. Just tell their bosses, executives or shareholders to take a bath on the river that collects their factory waste. They will learn their lesson, I’m sure,” said Sam Bimbo, laughing. (Kompas, Wednesday, 26 February 2014).

A boat carrying plastic waste scavengers sails on the Citarum River in Cihampelas, West Bandung regency, West Java, on June 13, 2014.
Kompas/Rony Ariyanto Nugroho
Students of SDN Pantai Bahagia 02 public elementary school go to school on the Anugrah motorboat through Citarum River in Muara Gembong district, Bekasi regency, West Java, on August 23, 2017.
Kompas/Harry Susilo
The lack of a bridge has forced schoolchildren from Tegallega village, East Telukjambe district, Karawang regency, West Java, to use a boat to cross Citarum River between their school and their homes on July 31, 2007.
Kompas/Mukhamad Kurniawan
A white water rafting team from Pelatihan Alam Bebas Foundation helps locals cross a river in Bandung regency after a bridge was heavily damaged from being hit by Citarum’s current on May 26, 2010.
Kompas/Lucky Pransiska
The Citarum River overflowed and inundated houses in Wadas river, Teluk Jambe district, Karawang regency, West Java, on November 14, 2016.
Kompas/Wawan H Prabowo
We have neglected Citarum River for far too long. This is a momentum to start this great undertaking. It is not too late to fix this. However, if we don’t move quickly, it will be too late.
‘- President Joko Widodo’
(Kompas, February 23, 2018)


Writer: Haryo Damardono | Language Editor: Lucia Dwi Puspita Sari | Reporters: Her Suganda, Cornelius Helmy Herlambang, Mukhamad Helmy | Photographers: Agus Susanto, Bambang Sukartiono, Benediktus Krisna Yogatama, Dedi Muhtadi, Fx Puniman, Hamzirwan, Haris Firdaus, Harry Susilo, Her Suganda, Kartono Ryadi, Lucky Pransiska, Markus Duan Allo, Mukhamad Kurniawan, Nugroho F Yudho, Rony Ariyanto Nugroho, Totok Poerwanto | Infographics: Gunawan Kartapranata | Photo Adjuster: Toto Sihono | Desainer & Pengembang: Rafni Amanda, Deny Ramanda, Vandi Vicario | Produser: Haryo Damardono, Septa Inigopatria, Prasetyo Eko Prihananto