PUTRAJAYA: There will be a new director for the state Department of Environment (DOE) in Johor to take charge of enforcement there.
Announcing this yesterday, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin (pic) said the new appointee was expected to assume the post “within weeks”.
Currently, there are 32 rivers in the country categorised as polluted under Class 4 and 5, 20 of which, according to Yeo, are in Johor itself.
“That’s why I have appointed a new state director who will be tasked with increasing enforcement, especially of rivers in the industrial areas like Pasir Gudang.
“He is one of our best. We will give him two years to make a difference and we will provide him 100% support,” she said.
However, she declined to give further details, saying that there would be a press conference later.
The release of effluents into the rivers were due to licensed and unlicensed factories in Pasir Gudang, said Yeo.
The former state DOE director is Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh, under whose tenure the toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim happened, sickening over 4,000 people and forcing the closure of 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district.
Mohammad Ezanni is reported to have been transferred to Putrajaya.
Yeo said the ministry was also in the process of drafting a new legislation to replace the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
The present Act, she added, was inadequate as this was drafted in 1974 when industrial areas as well as housing and commercial estates were not as developed as of now.
“That’s why we need a new Act to replace the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” she said.
Yeo added that the drafting of the new legislation would look into the existing provisions for penalties and who could be brought to court for pollution offences.