Khalid: Saving rivers a job for all

(From left) Norlin, Khalid, Izham and Global Environment Centre river care coordinator Dr Kalithasan Kailasam showing the results of the water tested upstream of Sungai Batu in Taman Negeri Selangor which is of Class 1 quality.

THE water quality of rivers along the River of Life (RoL) project site is not safe for recreational activities, says Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad.

He said the water quality has not reached the targeted Class 2B despite the project being 83% complete. So far, he said RM4bil had been spent on the project.

Khalid blamed the water’s poor quality on irresponsible people.

“The upstream of Sungai Batu at the Taman Negeri Selangor is classified as Class 1 but by the time it arrives downstream, it is rated Class 3 because of pollutants from residential and industrial areas in between.

“During a visit to Kampung Nakhoda in Batu Caves on Sunday, I saw that many houses and shops were built with the back facing Sungai Batu.

“People conveniently use the river as their dumping ground. This mentality has to change,” he said.

Khalid, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Mohd Ikhsan, Environment Department deputy director-general (development) Norlin Jaafar and Selangor executive councillor in charge of agriculture and infrastructure Izham Hashim visited several sites along Sungai Batu to test the water quality and see the situation themselves.

Khalid said the ministry was transforming the Sungai Klang basin which included eight rivers – Sungai Klang, Sungai Gombak, Sungai Batu, Sungai Jinjang, Sungai Keroh, Sungai Kerayong, Sungai Ampang and Sungai Bunus – with a combined stretch of 110km under the RoL project.

“Besides improving the water quality from Class 5 to Class 2, the main objective was to make 10.7km of Sungai Klang and Sungai Gombak a dynamic iconic waterfront, empowered with high economic value.

“The RoL comprises three components which are cleaning the river, beautifying it and lastly, developing the surrounding land,” he said.

The project is due to be completed in 2020.

Khalid said one of the biggest challenges was to make the people understand the importance of maintaining the river.

“The Government has spent billions of

ringgit to clean up the river but it is meaningless without the public’s help to care for it.

“The Public Outreach Programme (POP) needs to be intensified to cultivate co-operation and improve the attitude and behaviour of the targeted group.

“We are engaging groups of people who live near the rivers to instil a sense of ownership. This programme also aims to sow the seeds of responsibility among the people and make them appreciate the river,” he said.

During the celebration, Khalid also launched the RoL Citizen’s Eye mobile application to complement the POP.

“The main objective is to empower the people to be the eyes and ears of the Government by reporting any incident or activity that is related to the rivers involved in the RoL.

“The public can report on water quality, solid waste dumping, river reserve encroachment, source of pollutants, among others, to the authorities like Drainage and Irrigation Department, Environment Department, local authorities, Selangor Land and Mines office as well as Lembaga Urus Air Selangor,” he said later at the launch of national World River Day celebration themed “Nature for Water” at Lembangan Sungai Klang office, Kuala Lumpur.

Also present was Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Tan Yew Chong. 

Khalid said the RoL project was inspired by attractions like London’s Thames River, Circular Quay in Sydney and Cheonggyecheon River in South Korea.

“We, too, have rivers running through the city and want the people to enjoy its natural beauty. We need the public to support us to make it a reality,” he said.

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