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Scrutinise factories along rivers to avoid repeated water pollution – SAM

10th September, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urged state authorities to scrutinise factories and buildings near the river to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the river as a protected water source and to prevent repeated water pollution.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field researcher, Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said not only in Selangor, but also the re-zoning of factories and buildings near rivers in every state should be done so that waste is no longer discharged directly into the river.

“It is a preventive measure before the issue of pollution at Sungai Selangor recurs.

“While (waiting for) existing laws and regulations to be enhanced or amended, actually the relevant agencies can still take action under existing laws by asking any factory that violates the explicit conditions of land use as stated in the title of the property to move or demolish their buildings,” he told Bernama here, Wednesday.

He was commenting on the water supply disruption in Selangor a few days ago as the Sungai Selangor Phase 1, 2, 3 and Rantau Panjang water treatment plants were shut down due to pollution caused by factory activities near the plant’s water source.

Commenting further, Meor Razak said this enforcement action can be done under the National Land Code where if there are factories or industries that violate land use conditions by carrying out activities outside the conditions set out in their respective grants, their premises can be demolished.

For example, he said, the grant owner who originally used the land for industrial use, but turned the factory into a workshop producing waste in the form of oil which was dumped into the river thereby causing pollution.

“When this pollution occurs, agencies at the federal level such as the Department of Environment (DoE) can take action when irresponsible parties release waste into inland water bodies under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Act 655) ”.

He is of the view that increasing the fine from RM500,000 to RM1 million is a good move, but it is not enough to convince the greedy who never think in the public interest.

The role of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) needs to be strengthened, not only as an implementing agency that manages water bodies but also needs to be given a role as an agency that can enforce, he said.

He said currently if there are offences related to river exploration and pollution in particular, DID cannot take action. Meanwhile, in the Ruang Bicara programme telecast by Bernama TV last night, water quality expert, Dr Zaki Zainudin urged state governments to issue a list of industries that are high risk and should not be situated near surface water intakes to serve as a reference to all agencies involved to prevent pollution of water sources.

He said the state authority which is responsible for water management should create the list so that it can be used as a directive for state and federal agencies.

On Tuesday, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said his ministry, would set up an Environmental Crime Unit in the near future to address the issue of pollution. – Bernama

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