Jakarta sinking fast? Here is why the Indonesian capital will soon be under water

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New Delhi | December 26, 2017 12:59 PM

The Java sea that was at a good distance from human habitats in the city of Jakarta has slowly crept closer. And it will not be long before the Indonesian capital goes underwater!

jakarta, jakarta sinking, jakarta sinking fast, Indonesia, Indonesian capital, Jakarta underwater, java sea, Jayakarta, Javanese, climate change, world newsAll this is happening so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream. Who is to blame? (Photo: Reuters)

The Java sea that was at a good distance from human habitats in the city of Jakarta has slowly crept closer. And it will not be long before the Indonesian capital goes underwater! Horrifyingly, that is true! The city of Jakarta is sinking and that too at a fast pace. According to a report by the New York Times, the city of Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet. All this is happening so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream, even ordinary rains regularly swamp neighbourhoods and the buildings are slowly disappear underground as if they are being swallowed by the earth. Who is to blame? It is because of climate change that the Java Sea is rising and the weather of Jakarta is becoming extreme. Earlier in the month, a freakish storm briefly turned Jakarta’s streets into rivers and brought this vast area of nearly 30 million residents to a virtual halt, the report stated.

The water of the Java sea is slowly getting closer to the human habitat in the city also because Jakartans are digging illegal wells, drip by drip draining the underground aquifers on which the city rests — like deflating a giant cushion underneath it. The report stated that about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level. According to Hydrologists, Jakarta only has a decade to halt its sinking. If they are not able to do so then, northern Jakarta, with its millions of residents, will end up underwater, along with much of the nation’s economy. They added that it will eventually bar wholesale change and an infrastructural revolution because of which, Jakarta won’t be able to build walls high enough to hold back the rivers, canals and the rising Java Sea. But in case, the city is able to stop the sinking, it will still have to cope with all the mounting threats from climate change.

But how did the situation of the city get this bad? Well, the local sultans took over the city from the Hindu kingdom of Sunda back in 1527. They named it Jayakarta, Javanese for the victorious city. After them came the Dutch colonists, a century later and they established a base here for their East India territories. Imagining a tropical Amsterdam, they laid out streets and canals to try to cope with water pouring in from the south, out of the forests and mountains, where rain falls nearly 300 days out of the year. Thirteen rivers feed into the city. After independence in 1945, the city began to sprawl. Today, it is virtually impossible to walk around freely.

The most urgent problems are in North Jakarta. Some of the world’s most polluted canals and rivers weave a spider’s web through the area. It is where the city is sinking fastest. It is because of the decades of reckless growth and negligent leadership that happened in the past that is causing mayhem.

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