THE decade-old problem of illegal dumping, mostly construction and domestic waste, by the truckloads into Sungai Kelang from Petaling Jaya Selatan (PJS) has reared its head again.
A source from the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) said the illegal dumping, which was orchestrated by a group believed to be gangsters, had reached alarming levels and the group had even started harassing legal waste collection operators in the vicinity to use their services.
Residents claimed that, some 30 lorries could be seen approaching the riverbank from PJS 4, near the Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Tin daily.
They also claimed that the illegal operation was well organised and fees were collected by the gangsters managing the operation.
The problem is mostly concentrated in PJS3 and PJS4 for now.
“They even demand that the legal operators throw the waste into the river. They stop the council-engaged waste collecting lorries and harass the drivers to pay a fee to dispose the waste through their operations instead of heading to the legal landfills,” the source said.
At PJS3 some construction materials were stored by the riverbanks. However it was not certain if these items were stored there with permission from the relevant authorities.
StarMetro had reported on the issue extensively just a year ago and the relevant authorities such as MBPJ and the Petaling District Land Office had taken action and cleared the site while stepping up enforcement.
The area was cordoned off with boulders but the illegal operators removed the rocks on each occasion.
In recent months, enforcement action has slowed and the illegal activities are back in full swing, infuriating residents living along the river in PJS3, PJS4 and Kinrara in Puchong.
The residents are concerned over the pollution of the river as well as the open burning along the riverbank.
They want the authorities to get serious and implement solutions instead of turning a blind eye once the issue is no longer reported in the media.
Dominic Khoo, who lives in Puchong, said he was let down by the authorities, as the problem still persisted despite the media spotlight and numerous reports lodged with the authorities.
“The illegal activity, which looks very organised, has not been stamped out entirely.
“What have the authorities got to say this time?” Khoo asked.
Joseph Nathan, who lives near the river along the PJS stretch, said the illegal dumping was active again.
He was concerned over the open burning by the scavengers who would burn the rubbish along the riverbanks to gather metal for resale purposes.
“The smoke emitted from the burning is toxic and is a health concern,” he said.
Taman Medan assemblyman Haniza Talha said she had raised the issue with the Petaling District Land Office and had urged it to take stern action over the many illegal activities in the area.
She wants the illegal structures, such as the shacks occupied by the illegal immigrants, demolished.
Once the land is vacated, there are plans to turn a part of the area into a Muslim burial ground.
“I am puzzled why the land office has not taken any action. It has the power to nab those who have intruded on their land to dump waste illegally here.
“There are also illegal structures built here occupied by illegal immigrants. It is used as a spot to gather recyclable items harvested from the illegal dump site.
“The area was once cleared by the authorities but the culprits are back because the land was left idle,” Haniza said.
She added that Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Tin in PJS4 would be relocated to a nearby location.
The relocation of the gurdwara located along the riverbank at PJS4 was necessary for the Muslim burial ground to be built.
“A plot of land has been identified close to the existing gurdwara. The land is currently marked as a location for stalls but it is being converted to allow for a place of worship,” she said.
Haniza said she too had received numerous complaints from the residents who were angry at the illegal dumpsite and the open burning.
“The residents tell me they feel suffocated inhaling the thick smoke,” she said.
Petaling District Land Office assistant district officer (enforcement) Mohd Farid Shaharir confirmed that the state government had given its approval to gazette the plot of land in PJS 4 as a Muslim burial ground.
Farid said the illegal dumping and preventive measures to curb the activity falls under the council’s purview while the land office could only take action against those who encroached on government land.
He said the land office had demolished the illegal structures at the site previously but the illegal operators have rebuilt it.
The land office is in the midst of preparing a summary to be presented at the State Economic Planning Meeting (MTES) to enable overall enforcement at all the affected locations.
A Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Tin spokesman said the temple had been in talks with the authorities but said the issue had not been finalised.
He said the temple has no objection to relocation as long as the new site was nearby, adding that the gurdwara had recently been renovated and the state government should provide some form of compensation to help them rebuild at the new location.
To safeguard the gurdwara’s interests, the spokesman said the committee wanted everything in black and white.
“We were informed that the riverbank will be converted to a Muslim cemetery and we have no problem relocating. However, we are uncertain over this plan as we have not received any formal documents on the relocation,” he said.
At press time, MBPJ had yet to respond to questions on the issue.