NOW that Selangor is almost a squatter-free state, the Selangor government is bent on getting rid off illegal factories.
Attractive incentives are being given for illegal factory operators to ensure they legalise their operations within a stipulated timeframe, after which action will be taken against them.
Environmentalists and other concerned individuals like residents living near these illegal factories are unhappy with the state’s project to legalise illegal factories for reasons like pollution, damage to infrastructure and general disturbance.
The state government contends the legalisation agenda is for the common good because the 3,165 illegal factories recorded in a census export products worth RM3bil annually, not to mention the 150,000 job opportunities available to locals and foreigners.
At the same time, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo has maintained a clear stance that threats to public health and safety will not be condoned nor tolerated.
Illegal factories that caused noise and air or water pollution would be fined, ordered to cease operations or to shift operations elsewhere. By definition, factories operating without permits, business licences or Certificates of Completion and Compliance (CCC) on land meant for residential, agricultural or commercial purposes or on government reserve land are deemed illegal.
The legalisation circular was issued on July 31, 2006.
However, the legalisation process comes with certain conditions like the discounts offered for land conversion that only apply to factory operators who own the land.
Incentives in the state government’s package include reduced industrial land premiums and staggered premium payments stretched over 12 months for those who cannot make lump sum payments.
Under the package announced in June, factory owners will enjoy a 50% discount on land premiums paid within three months of the conversion approval. Those who pay up within six and nine months are entitled to 30% and 10% discounts respectively.
At a briefing for factory operators in April, state Housing, Building and Squatters Management Committee chairman Datuk Mokhtar Dahlan said areas occupied by illegal factories lacked basic infrastructure like roads, lighting, drains and sewerage facilities.
“Through the legalisation agenda, we want to ensure all requirements concerning layout, building plans and safety are met by working with the Environment Department, Fire and Rescue Services Department, Syabas and TNB,” he told a press conference.
Illegal factory operators in the Balakong New Village Industrial Zone gave much thought to legalising their operations years ago.
Balakong assemblyman Datuk Hoh Hee Lee told StarMetro the area now serves as a benchmark for other operators concerned with doing things by the book.
The Balakong New Village Industrial Zone has 220 factory lots, spread over 200ha. The area was originally classified as agricultural land.
“When the idea of legalising their businesses was proposed in 1995, the factory operators set up the Balakong New Village Industrial Zone Landowners and Factory Operators Association.
“They sought the advice of the Hulu Langat Public Works Department and the Environment Department.
“Efforts were also taken to look at the masterplan for Balakong,” Hoh said.
“The operators also pooled their resources to raise RM200,000 to conduct a topography study and engineering design to improve the infrastructure,” he said. The figure collected so far is RM7mil. Plots of land were also reserved for the future use of TNB and Syabas.”
The Balakong New Village Industrial Zone comes under the Kajang Municipal Council. Next to the Klang Municipal Council, MPKj has the highest number of illegal factories in Selangor.
Around 614 illegal factories operate under the municipality and the concentration is in Balakong, Semenyih, Dusun Tua, Hulu Langat, Sungai Chua and Simpang Balak.
Only 58% of illegal factory operators in Selangor have applied for licences. Although it was the intention of the state government to declare itself an illegal factory-free state in 2005, the journey will be a long one.