Public help essential for clean waterways

Riverbank gardens can help give residents a sense of ownership.Riverbank gardens can help give residents a sense of ownership.

COMMUNITY engagement and participation are among the most sustainable methods in caring for rivers.

Global Environment Centre (GEC) river care programme coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan said it was important for communities to take ownership of rivers and realise their role as custodians.

“When the river is healthy, residents will benefit from it. When it is polluted, they will feel the impact.

“The river is like a home and people must treat it with care, ” he said.

The public is encouraged to be the authorities’ eyes and the ears by reporting those who dump waste into the river.

To make it simpler, they can snap photos and lodge complaints via the River of Life (ROL) Citizen’s Eye app.

Besides reporting wrongdoers, Kalithasan said the public could also post positive river-related matters on the app.

“Residents should think of themselves as ‘frontliners’ who live by the river.

“When a problem is detected and the authorities are notified, it makes enforcement easier and quicker.

Kalithasan says the public should be the authorities’ eyes and ears in reporting illegal activities taking place near rivers.Kalithasan says the public should be the authorities’ eyes and ears in reporting illegal activities taking place near rivers.

“When the problem has been around for decades, it will take the authorities a longer time to get to the root of the matter.

“These days, smartphones make it easier for the public to snap photos and alert the authorities.

“We need the public’s cooperation to highlight pollution to the authorities.

“We have to care for rivers because there are also animals and plants that rely on them for their survival, ” he said.

Kalithasan cited the 32 groups in the Friends of Klang River Basin as an example.

“They comprise mostly retirees and young adults.

“Most of the older people have experienced playing in the river as children.

“It is easier to rope in these residents to care for the rivers as they have positive memories of clean rivers.

“They are keen for their children and grandchildren to have similar experiences.”

Kalithasan said it was important to get the young interested in keeping rivers clean.

“They must realise the importance of caring for our rivers and the impact of polluted waterways, ” he said.

Kalithasan said being acknowledged for their efforts was one of the ways to keep communities engaged in caring for rivers.

“They are overjoyed when they read of their efforts in the newspaper or on social media, ” he said.

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