KUALA LUMPUR: The Department of Environment (DOE) will be given more enforcement powers in the near future to go after polluters, says Deputy Environment and Water Minister Datuk Dr Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad.
“At present, DOE’s enforcement powers are derived from the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 2015.
“In line with the need to further empower this, a new perimeter for pollutants is being drafted for activities not covered under environment impact assessments,” he said when replying to a question by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (July 29).
Masrizal added that current DOE enforcement powers were also being updated to tackle pollution stemming from manufacturing activities.
Bung had alleged that irresponsible palm oil companies in his constituency and poor DOE enforcement have caused pollution in the Kinabatangan River.
“The river water used to be clear but now the 560km-long river is brackish.
“This is because some companies have planted oil palm trees on the riverbank (and are also) dumping waste into the river," Bung said.
Masrizal acknowledged that enforcement against activities such as waste dumping was not an easy task as it was done arbitrarily by some companies.
Earlier, he informed lawmakers that the DOE had conducted 14 enforcement checks on plantations as at June this year, with two companies being issued notices and one issued a compound.
Last year, the DOE carried out enforcement checks on 19 plantations where eight companies were issued notices while two were hauled to court, he added.
He also said the DOE had carried out enforcement checks on 19 plantations in 2018 where four companies were issued notices and one issued a compound.
Meanwhile, despite the ongoing movement control order, Masrizal said DOE has been conducting enforcement operations against illegal open burning activities, particularly in areas where there was peat soil.
As at July this year, 74 open burning cases had been detected in oil palm plantations and 19 cases in rubber estates, compared with 178 cases of open burning in oil palm estates and 29 cases in rubber estates the whole of last year, he added.
To a question by Datuk Hasbullah Osman (BN-Gerik), Masrizal said his ministry had recently launched a University Green Campus Lifestyle campaign to promote awareness on environment protection and sustainable development.
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