Give higher priority for environmental matters in Johor Budget, urge NGOs

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021

JOHOR BARU: Johor-based environmental organisations are urging the state government to address many environmental-related issues that need immediate attention.

Green Earth Society Johor president P. Sivakumar said not addressing and solving these issues would result in negative long-term effects for Johor.

"River pollution, deforestation and illegal dumping are major issues that the Johor government needs to look into when tabling the 2022 state Budget this Thursday (Nov 18),'' he said.

Sivakumar said the state could face a major water crisis as raw water supply from rivers were contaminated, similar to what had happened in Selangor.

"Polluted and contaminated rivers will not only affect our water supply but also the livelihood of our inland fishermen who depend on them,'' he said.

Sivakumar added there were certain rivers which had already disappeared from the radar due to over-development and uncontrolled human economic activities.

"The tell-tale signs are already here – including frequent water disruption especially in southern parts of Johor in recent years, causing inconvenience to consumers,'' he said.

Sivakumar said stern action must be taken against those who treat rivers as their dumping ground, including companies discharging effluents into water bodies.

He added that Johor must ensure that forest reserves or jungles in the state, as main water catchment areas, would not be encroached into by humans for illegal agriculture or logging activities.

"Protecting the environment is more than just tree planting and the state government must have the political will and not merely provide lip service,'' said Sivakumar.

He said the state government needed to work closely with environmental-based non- governmental organisations, including allocating financial assistance to them to educate the public on protecting the environment.

Safe Johor River founder Poh Pai Yik lamented that the yearly state budget had so far failed to address major environment-related issues, especially dirty rivers.

"We have seen changes in the state administration since the last general election in May 2018, but there are still no concrete solutions to the problem of polluted rivers,'' he said.

Poh said stricter measures are needed to ensure protection of waterways and rehabilitation of dead rivers.

He said the Environment Department had revealed that 16 out of the 25 dirtiest rivers in the peninsula are located in Johor and the figures were alarming as rivers are the main source of raw water supply in the state.

"Deforestation is another major factor which causes river pollution in Johor,'' said Poh.

Most of the 16 rivers, he noted, were categorised as dead rivers where aquatic creatures could not survive.

He said the mangrove growing along the polluted rivers were no longer the breeding ground for freshwater fish species, prawns, edible snails and mud crabs.

Among the dead rivers are Sungai Tukang Batu in Pasir Gudang and Sungai Merah in Pontian while Sungai Jemaluang in Mersing and Sungai Kahang in Kluang are contaminated by mining activities.

"We recently visited Sungai Bahan and Sungai Kemudi in Iskandar Puteri and the rivers are getting shallower and the mangrove growing along the river banks are deteriorating,'' said Poh.
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