Proposal to close pig farms until non-polluting measures taken

A view of the polluted Sungai Kereh in Tasek Gelugor, Penang.

THE Environment and Water Ministry has proposed the closure of pig farms operating in Kampung Selamat which are blamed for polluting Sungai Kereh in Tasek Gelugor near Butterworth since 40 years ago.

Dr Mohd Zuhdi Zakaria, who is political secretary to the Environment and Water Minister, said the best way to solve the problem was to stop pig-farming operations until pig farm operators were committed to using a better and systematic way to discharge pig manure and waste.

“In my opinion, the best way to stop the pollution is to stop activities at the pig farms.

“Local authorities, together with the relevant government agencies, must take immediate measures to stop pig farms from continuing to operate, ” he told reporters

during a visit to Sungai Kereh on Sunday.

Mohd Zuhdi, however, said the closure of pig farms required the commitment and cooperation from various ministries and agencies.

He said he would forward the suggestion to close pig farms until a solution to solve the pollution was found.

Dr Mohd Zuhdi says the ministry is looking into an increase in fines for those responsible for pollution.Dr Mohd Zuhdi says the ministry is looking into an increase in fines for those responsible for pollution.

Earlier, Mohd Zuhdi was accompanied by Penang PAS commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusoff to check the condition of the river after receiving complaints and memorandums from environmental NGOs, padi farmers and fishermen about the river pollution.

Ask if there was a provision of law that could order the closure of pig farms, Mohd Zuhdi said the ministry could only issue fines and compounds to errant pig farmers who polluted the river.

He also said the ministry was looking into increasing the fines and other possible action in accordance with the existing Environmental Act.

“The sum of fines was too little, hence the person or groups who had caused pollution were not afraid, ” he said.

The Star had, on Friday, reported that fishermen living along Sungai Kereh in Tasek Gelugor near Butterworth were crying foul over water pollution which had affected their daily income.

The fishermen claimed that the pollution was caused by rampant release of manure into the river from pig farms in nearby Kampung Selamat.

This had also affected the water in the main river of Sungai Prai, they said.

Other rivers also believed to have been affected by the pollution were Sungai Korok, Sungai Jarak and Sungai Kulim.

State health, agriculture and agro-based industry, and rural development committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin reportedly said the state Veterinary Services Department would install water filters in the river in Kampung Selamat to tap the black sludge.

She said the state Drainage and Irrigation Department estimated that it would cost about RM13mil to build a waste pool at the pig farms in Kampung Selamat.

It is learnt that the state government had passed the Pig Farming Enactment 2016 requiring all pig farmers to practise the closed farming method.

However, the law which should have been implemented in January this year, was put on hold and a moratorium of two years was allowed for them to convert their farms into the new system.

Under the Penang Pig Farming Enactment 2016, farmers who flout the strict guidelines face a maximum of three years’ jail or a RM30,000 fine or both, upon conviction.

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