PUTRAJAYA: The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry is drafting a uniform and comprehensive Water Resource Bill in a bid to clamp down on water pollution.
Its Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the Bill will be used by all states to enhance the management, control and enforcement of their water resources. It will also guide discussions and coordination on issues involving water resources that are shared by two or more states, as pollution is harder to tackle when it involves multiple states.
"This Bill requires the support and acceptance of all state governments to ensure that issues such as river pollution can be handled uniformly and effectively.
"The Ministry is currently holding consultations with state governments on the implementation of this Bill," said Xavier in a statement on Monday (April 29).
The Kuala Langat MP said the Bill was among the initiatives taken by the government to address the problem of water resource pollution throughout the country.
He was responding to a front-page report by Bahasa Malaysia newspaper BH Ahad, which on Sunday (April 28), highlighted that there were no efforts to save or rehabilitate more than 20 rivers classified under Class 3.
This meant that those rivers that are polluted and require intensive treatment.
Xavier said other than the Bill, the Ministry has undertaken other initiatives, including implementing structural approaches and non-structural approaches.
"The Ministry, through the Irrigation and Drainage Department (DID), has taken structural approaches, such as building infrastructure to treat the quality of river water and also installing log booms at several locations of main rivers.
"Non-structural approaches were also taken, such as launching the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) strategy, which is aimed at ensuring that water is adequate and clean, decreasing flood risks and improving environmental conservation," added Xavier.
The DID has also introduced voluntary river rehabilitation programmes with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups and commercial entities, said Xavier.
As land and water resources including rivers were under the jurisdiction of the state governments, law enforcement also fell under them.
"All states have their own laws regarding water resources, including on prohibition of pollution.
"The cooperation of the state government in carrying out the law enforcement or state enactments is crucial in protecting the rivers in those states," he said.
Xavier added that all stakeholders must be involved in efforts to conserve and preserve the quality of river water, as there were adverse consequences should water resources continue to be polluted.
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