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Monday June 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday June 10, 2013 MYT 11:27:29 AM
by story andphotos by edmund ngo
ENVIRONMENTAL engineering undergraduate Clement Foo has been studying a lot about the environment and has recently found a platform to apply his theoretical knowledge practically, contributing it back to society.
The 22-year-old was among the first batch of 20 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) students who are being trained to become facilitators in the Sungai Kinta Education programme, which raises awareness for a clean river.
“Before the training, I was a little indifferent towards how our actions impact the cleanliness of our rivers, but being able to use my knowledge practically opened up my eyes.
“I began to see the connection of our actions towards our rivers and I feel determined to encourage others not only to keep the river clean, but see life return to it,” he told The Star.
The awareness programme, which spans over three years, is conducted by the Global Environment Centre (GEC) in collaboration with GAB Foundation, under the W.A.T.E.R. (Working Actively through Education and Rehabilitation) Project.
River care coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan said the programme compliments the efforts by the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and various government agencies in rehabilitating the Sungai Kinta.
“The government agencies have carried out the hard approaches such as cleaning the river and so the programme focuses on the soft approach, engaging local, school and business communities in keeping the rivers clean.
“Through a technical committee, three tributaries of Sungai Kinta - Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong and Sungai Kledang — have been chosen for the programme,” he said.
“This is because the water quality of these three tributaries have a significant impact on the water pollution of Sungai Kinta,” he added.
Kalithasan said Utar students played an important role in becoming role models to the community, training the school students and other participants on how to carry out river water quality monitoring and other environmental projects.
“The trainings will be carried out in selected schools, local communities and food operators along the tributaries and activities such as taking water samples of the rivers or setting up compost bins will be initiated.
“Schools will also come up with proposals to tackle local issues, such as lack of grease traps or inefficient kitchen waste management in their schools and the programme will provide them seed grants, ranging between a few hundred ringgit, to purchase the necessary materials,” he said.
Kalithasan said the goal of the Sungai Kinta programme was to have 20 schools, 15 local communities and 10 food operators implement best management practises that would not pollute the river.
To formalise the cooperation between Utar, GEC and GAB Foundation, a memorandum of understanding was signed and exchanged at the Utar Kampar campus last Tuesday.
The ceremony was witnessed by Utar council chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Datuk Abdul Razak Dahalan and Utar planning and development committee advisor Tan Sri Hew See Tong.
It was during the ceremony that the 20 Utar students received their “River Rangers” certificates to become facilitators in the programme.
In the ceremony, GAB Foundation chairman Datuk Saw Choo Boon said the foundation is contributing RM1mil for the programme, which would be used to sponsor the materials and various costs for the education activities conducted throughout the three years, such as supplying water testing kits or composting kits.
“The Sungai Kinta programme is an extension of the WATER project, which began with the rehabilitation of Sungai Way in Petaling Jaya, Selangor in 2007.
“For Sungai Way, the project applied a hard and soft approach; installation of rubbish traps, planting trees along the river bank and engaging the stakeholders, namely the community upstream and downstream of the 2.5km long urban river.
“Education was conducted through a river carnival, a river care education centre and a mobile river care unit. According to the water quality index, Sungai Way was Class IV-V, meaning extremely polluted, before the project but is now a Class III, meaning able to support living organism,” he said.
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