Strong task force and new law needed to protect water resources, says Fomca president
5 Sep 2020
CONSUMER, civil and pol i t i c al organis at i ons want to see major changes and improvements to existing laws, policies, as well as strong enforcement and harsher penalties against culprits who pollute raw water sources.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) president Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason said based on the National Water Service Commission’s data last year, water treatment plants were shut down more than 300 times, mainly in Peninsular Malaysia, due to pollution.
“It is time for all government agencies, including the opposition, to tackle this serious issue.”
For example, with the advancement of technology, he said, smart water sensors should be installed at all major rivers and output ducts of factories. He said a strong task force supported by a new law needed to be gazetted to protect the nation’s natural resources.
“Existing industries near water sources should be inspected. An EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) study on each factory should be made mandatory. It is not the right time to blame anyone.”
Marimuthu said Selangor’s water reserve margin at the moment was way too low and, as such, there was a need to find ways to increase it.
“We should use the Langat 2 Water Treatment Plant that has increased its water reserve margin from three per cent to 10 per cent this year.
“Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shahri said he is confident that the water reserve margin will continue rising after his visit to the water treatment plant.”
He said there was a need to empower residents who lived near rivers so that they could be the eyes for enforcement agencies.
Pro-PKR group Otai Reformis 98 called for the salaries of Selangor menteri besar, relevant exco members, Selangor Water M a n a g e m e n t A uthority director and Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd chief executive officer to be cut each time a disruption takes place.
“Selangor has gone through three menteris besar (since Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the state), from Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to now Amirudin.
“And still, water disruptions persist. The state government had spent RM2.5 billion to buy a water treatment plant from Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd, but the problem remains,” said the group’s secretary, Abdul Razak Ismail.
MCA Youth has called upon lawmakers to impose harsher punishments on water polluters.
Its spokesman, Ryan Ho Kwok Xheng, said since December l ast year, Klang Valley residents had to put up with seven unscheduled water disruptions due to raw water pollution.
He said water pollution should be considered as an act of terrorism since it could cause societal disturbances, environmental carnage and major losses to the private sector.
“Factory operators, owners, directors and those who are found responsible for the discharge of effluents into water sources should be detained under preventive laws, such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 to thwart internal security issues, including sabotage, public order or terrorism.
“To serve as a deterrent, Section 121(1)(b) and (c) of the Water Services Industry Act 2006, which allows judges the option to impose a jail sentence or fine, should be amended.
“The amendments should provide for a mandatory jail sentence of at least three years, including a minimum fine of RM500,000 but not exceeding an amount to be determined by Parliament. Other laws, such as the Local Government Act 1976, which penalises water polluters with fines of between RM2,000 and RM5,000, and the Environmental Quality Act, which fines polluters up to RM500,000, should also similarly impose a mandatory jail sentence and higher fines.”