Water Day event marred by waste

Riverbank blues: Hasni (in white) showing the barrels found along Sungai Kim Kim during the gotong-royong programme.

PASIR GUDANG: Several blue-coloured plastic barrels were found dumped along the riverbanks of Sungai Kim Kim here during a gotong-royong programme.

Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad made the discovery this time around.

The river was in the news in March 2019 over a pollution scare which resulted in the closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, halted operations for several industries and disrupted the lives of the local community for weeks.

Several students and teachers experienced nausea, dizziness and vomiting after they were believed to have inhaled toxic fumes caused by chemicals dumped into Sungai Kim Kim.

Hasni revealed the latest discovery during a press conference after attending a gotong-royong programme in conjunction with International Water Day here yesterday.

“I saw it (plastic barrels) with my own eyes that there was waste being dumped here that will affect the water quality along the river, ” he said.

He added that there were some irresponsible quarters that were still abusing the river to conduct inappropriate activities along Sungai Kim Kim.

He stressed that an action committee must immediately be formed in an effort to control pollution along Sungai Kim Kim.

“I am confident that with Sungai Kim Kim being chosen as the first river in the country to be selected under the National River Trail programme, it will be kept clean and safe.

“The programme was initiated by the Environment and Water Ministry, which aims to develop a total of 10,000km of trails along riversides nationwide with 2,000km of trails built around rivers in each district in Johor, ” he said.

He noted that about RM500,000 would be allocated for the first phase of trail development along Sungai Kim Kim.

“As we know, Sungai Kim Kim once sparked controversy with river pollution that affected public health.

The government has since been undertaking numerous attempts to monitor the river while also discovering the source of the pollution.

“We believe that this programme would help strengthen our effort to ensure that the river remains safe and free of any pollution in the future, ” he said.

Hasni added that the trail here would allow the public to have more nature-based activities around the river, thus discouraging irresponsible parties to turn the river into a dumping site.

On March 9, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said that Sungai Kim Kim was not polluted with toxic waste and denied a report by a daily that claimed otherwise.

“The readings from the water samples taken from the river showed that it was normal and not at a dangerous level, ” he said.

He said that based on investigations by the Johor Environment Department (DOE), the pollution was due to waste water from nearby premises.

“The pollution did not come from scheduled waste like what had happened two years ago, ” he said, adding that DOE would continue to monitor the river.

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