MELAKA: The Melaka government has asked former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to explain why his administration cancelled the Jernih Dam project in Alor Gajah in 2017, despite its urgency.
Melaka Smart City Council chairman Khoo Poay Tiong said Najib reportedly spoke about the state’s water issue and attributed it to the Pakatan Harapan government during his visit to Melaka on Saturday (Feb 15).
"Melaka is undergoing a water rationing exercise, but Najib has to explain the reason behind the cancellation of Jernih Dam project.
"The move has placed locals and industries at risk of water shortage," he said in a statement on Monday (Feb 17).
Khoo said it was important for Najib to state the facts in order for people to understand the matter properly and holistically.
He said as far back as 2006, water concessionaire Syarikat Air Melaka Berhad (SAMB) and the Melaka government had highlighted the need for a new dam to fulfil future demand for water here.
"This eventually led to the beginning of the Jernih project in 2012, but it was never completed under the previous government," he said, adding that Najib's government decided to cancel the project in 2017.
Khoo said the former federal and state government had failed to plan for the long-term sustainability of water supply in Melaka.
Khoo, who is also the MP for Kota Melaka, said when Pakatan Harapan took over the government in 2018, he immediately arranged for a meeting in Parliament between SAMB, the state government, as well as the Federal Government to discuss the Jernih Dam.
"There was a positive outcome, as all parties agreed to continue the project due to its urgency.
"The project is now ongoing and is expected to be completed in 2023," he said, adding that the state had taken several short- and medium-term steps to increase water security.
"For example, we have increased the amount of water purchased form Johor, drew more water from lakes and ponds and carried out cloud seeding operations," he said.
Unfortunately, Khoo said, the dry spell in 2018 and 2019 amplified the water shortage.
"The average rainfall last year was the lowest in the past decade, thus reducing the inflow of water from existing sources," he added.
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