KUALA LUMPUR: Unscheduled water cuts and river pollution have become the focus in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 3) after 14 MPs questioned the Environment and Water Ministry over the issue.
The questions, which was raised during the Oral Question time in Parliament, had centred on whether action was taken against companies which caused river pollutions and hat plans does the ministry has in order to prevent unscheduled water cuts.
The issue was raised by Datuk Seri Hasan Ariffin (BN-Rompin), Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz (PAS-Bachok), Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (BN-Padang Terap), Datuk Hasbullah Osman (BN-Gerik), Datuk Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (PN-Sabak Bernam), Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang), Wan Hassan Mohd Ramli (PAS-Dungun), and Che Alias Hamid (PAS-Kemaman).
On the other hand, MPs from the Opposition who raised the issue were William Leong (PH-Selayang), Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub (PH-Pulai), Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya), Fong Kui Lun (PH-Bukit Bintang), Fuziah Salleh (PH-Kuantan), and Yeo Bee Yin (PH-Bakri).
According to Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the Department of Environment had conducted 17,445 inspections between Jan 1 and Sept 30 on premises under the purview of the Environment Qualities Act 1974.
Tuan Ibrahim also said 7,872 complaints were received on pollution and out of that figure, 1,280 are premises regulated under environment pollution provisions whereas the remaining 7,389 premises producing scheduled waste falls under the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations.
Tuan Ibrahim said 1,159 legal action has been taken on 636 premises found to be not abiding by laws concerning water pollution, which involved 751 compounds, 380 notices, and seven premises had their operating licenses suspended.
Between Jan 1 to Sept 30,61 premises had been brought to court and were fined RM1.49mil each, (cumulatively RM6.07mil) on water pollution and scheduled waste management offences, said Tuan Ibrahim.
He said that 560 investigations were conducted by the National Waters Services Commission (SPAN) from January to September and 17 site investigations were conducted on potential pollution cases that caused water disruptions.
He also said 24 investigation papers were opened under Section 60,61, and 121 of the Water Services Industry Act.
“I wish to announce that those who are responsible was identified and has been remanded by the police for further investigations and they will be charged in court.”
Tuan Ibrahim also said that between January to Sept 30, legal action had been taken against 636 companies on water pollution while 2,323 companies had action taken against them for disposing of scheduled waste errantly.
“On this, the DOE has taken stern action against 7,042 premises under the Environment Quality Act.”
Tuan Ibrahim also said that amendments to the Water Industry Act and the Environment Quality Act are currently in the process of obtaining approval from the Cabinet next month.
He said the proposed amendments are expected to be tabled in 2021, which will bring about heavier penalties for crimes against the environment.
Among proposals to strengthen existing provision, said Tuan Ibrahim, was to increase fines from RM100,000 to RM10mil for water pollution under the Water Industry Act, while prison sentence will be increased to 15 years from merely one year.
Tuan Ibrahim also said that among other amendments, also included giving police officers the purview to conduct enforcements under the Water Industry Act and Environment Quality Act.
During September and October, millions of households in the Klang Valley had to endure water cuts on several occasions due to river pollution.
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