KOTA KINABALU: Only three of the 50 major rivers in Sabah are classified as polluted, a study carried out last year revealed.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said the two polluted rivers in the west coast were Sungai Likas in the state capital and Sungai Menggaris in the northern Kota Marudu district.
Replying to Liew Teck Chan (BN Likas) at the state assembly sitting here yesterday, Chong said the third river deemed polluted was the Sungai Burung Burung in the east coast Tawau district.
The findings on Sabah's rivers were made by the Department of Environment last year.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan said 16% of Sabahs 2.7 million population lived in poverty.
A 2000/2001 census also showed that nearly 30,000 people in the state were considered hardcore poor, he said when replying to Au Kam Wah (BN Elopura).
The state, he noted, had embarked on various projects ranging from seaweed and yam cultivation to fish breeding in 11 districts as part of efforts to tackle poverty.
State Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Rahim Ismail said the state governments move to designate the northern Kota Belud district as Sabahs rice bowl was not a political gimmick.
Replying to Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia (BN Tampasuk), Rahim said that for a start, some RM2.4mil was spent this year to irrigate padi fields in Kota Belud.
Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Sapawi Ahmad said state-owned and linked companies had paid more than RM46mil to the state government as dividend over the past two years.
State agencies had also repaid the government nearly RM296mil in loan repayments he said when responding to Datuk Mohd Lan Allani (BN Sulabyan).
Meanwhile, Pandikar Amin urged the state government to make its stand known as to whether it would continue to protect the pristine Maliau Basin, dubbed Sabahs Lost World. He said that fears about the environmental future of the Maliau Basin continued to play on the minds of the people in the absence of any official stand by the government.
The government, he said, should ensure the conservation of environmentally-sensitive areas.
Concerns emerged last year when the then Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said there was no reason for the state to prevent prospecting in the area where there was an estimated 200 million tonnes of coal deposits.