Penang has rights to river without paying Kedah


Visitors enjoying a stroll at Mengkuang Dam in Bukit Mertajam. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

KEDAH Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has no grounds to demand payment from Penang for drawing raw water from Sungai Muda.

PBA Holdings Bhd and Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the state holds the right to extract raw water from Sungai Muda without payment to Kedah as the river does not belong exclusively to Kedah.

“Sungai Muda is a river that flows through Kedah and Penang.

“As such, Kedah is not ‘supplying raw water’ to Penang. Sungai Muda is also not a canal, pipeline or channel ‘constructed’ by Kedah, ” he said in a recent statement.

He said the fact that Sungai Muda flows through Penang is documented in the Kedah and Penang (Alteration of Boundary) Act 1985 (Act 325), which is enshrined as an Act in Article 2 of Federal Constitution.

He said state enactments passed by both states in 1985 also placed the states’ boundary along the centre line of the river.

Jaseni said this in his written statement after he was asked by reporters on the latest update on the water issue between the two states during a press conference after the handover ceremony of Mengkuang Dam to PBAPP by the Federal Government.

Jaseni added since the opening of Muda Water Scheme in 1973, Penang has been extracting water from the river without charge.

“No charges are applicable because there is no document, agreement or memorandum that requires the Penang government or PBAPP to pay any form of fee, charge, contribution or compensation to Kedah, ” he said.

Earlier, during the handover ceremony, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said with Mengkuang Dam, the state now has strategic water resources to cope with the increasing need for water in the 21st century.

“Although the Mengkuang Dam Expansion Project (MEDP) has been given to us, there is another two phases of the project that are still on hold. We are waiting for the implementation of the two phases by Federal Government, ” he said in his speech.

MDEP is a Federal Government project that was undertaken with no direct cost to Penang.

Funded by a RM1.2bil Federal grant, the full work scope of MEDP comprises four key phases which are the expansion of the dam (completed in April 10,2017) and the upgrading of the Mak Sulong Pumping Station (completed on Sept 28,2017).

The other two phases on hold are the laying of 7km of a 1.6m-diameter raw water pipeline from Mak Sulong Pumping Station to the Sungai Dua Canal and the construction of the 440 million-litres-a-day Lahar Yooi Pumping Station.

MDEP began more than nine years ago, when Penang agreed to migrate its water assets to Federal Government’s National Water Services Restructuring Initiative.

Meanwhile, locals living near Mengkuang Dam were impressed with the expanded dam.

Factory worker Mohd Zaidi Ahmad Azmi, 39, said the dam now also serves as a recreational area for the public to be involved in healthy activities such as jogging and walking.

“I like bringing my kids whenever I am free on the weekends, ” he said.

Mohd Zaidi hopes the management of the dam would increase safety measures at the dam, such as installing extended grills along the walls dividing the dam and the road.

Zaharah Hamzah, 30, hopes Mengkuang Dam would have facilities like a picnic area, playground and badminton court.

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