Tension flares at MPKL townhall meeting over reopening of battery factory

TENSION flared at a townhall meeting between Jenjarom villagers and Kuala Langat Municipal Council (MPKL) following an announcement that a much contested battery factory in the village has been given approval to reopen.

Council president Datuk Amirul Azizan Abd Rahim told attendees that the factory had been given a temporary three-month approval for a period of two years.

"This meeting is to find a win-win solution for all parties.

"We don't want this issue to drag on endlessly as it's not good for the community," he said on Friday (Sept 24).

Villagers representative Mohd Nazri Afrizal countered this, saying that MPKL failed to take into account villagers' concerns.

"What's the point of this meeting if the authorities have already given approval to the factory to operate?

"Many community leaders such as the local mosques and Parent Teacher Associations have stated their disagreement over the factory reopening," he said.

Amirul, in response, said the factory would bring job opportunities to villagers.

He assured that the council would revoke the approval if the factory failed to abide by the regulations.

The factory made national headlines in 2019 after investigations by several authorities found it responsible for lead pollution.

Then state Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian had ordered it to cease operations and move out of the area.

StarMetro reported early this year that another company had since bought over the facility and planned to reopen it.

The factory's production manager Mohd Shamsul Sharizan Ayop said the facility would not be making lead batteries, but only assembling solar batteries.

He said the factory would comply with all the standards and regulations set by the Environment Department (DOE).

Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat legal adviser Lee Chee Kwang said the reopening plan was a breach of existing laws.

He said the villagers would consider taking the matter to court for a judicial review if the council proceeded with the plan.

He pointed out that the Kuala Langat Local Plan 2030 stated that battery production was considered a heavy industry, while the site was in a medium industry zone.

Also present during the meeting were Selangor DOE director Nor Aziah Jaafar, Sijangkang assemblyman Datuk Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi and Masjid Jenjarom representatives.

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