JB mayor eyes speedy approval

JOHOR BARU: Johor Baru mayor Datuk Noorazam Osman is keeping his fingers crossed for a quick approval from the state government to set up a centralised area for all recycling companies to prevent illegal dumping.

“A 24ha site has already been identified in Seelong for this purpose,” he said.

Noorazam, who was Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) chief executive officer before he became mayor about four months ago, said: “When I was with KPRJ, we set up a subsidiary company known as Kitar Selatan Sdn Bhd to undertake this project.

“So once the recyclable items are sorted and collected, the excess rubbish from these companies can be disposed of at the Seelong land field in the same area.”

“Even the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project has been done. This will be similar to how we set up a place in Muar for all furniture companies,” he said in an interview.

Asked about the existence of more than a dozen recycling factories located in Kempas, Noorazam said it would be impossible to monitor all recycling companies around the clock.

“By relocating them all to one area in Seelong, it will be easier for the authorities to monitor and manage them,” he added.

Asked about an illegal dumpsite in Taman Bukit Kempas, which was polluting a lake in the area, Noorazam said the state government should provide a special fund to carry out a massive clean-up operation.

“We have already spent RM200,000 on a (piece of) private land. To now ask us to clear up all the rubbish and to bill the owner, it will be a huge financial burden on MBJB,” he said, referring to the Johor Baru City Council.

“And what happens if the land owner refuses to pay for the cleaning charges?” he said.

Noorazam suggested that the Johor Baru land office forfeit the land first and a special allocation be given by the state government to remove the rubbish and clean up the place.

Once the land has been turned into state land, he said MBJB would be willing to take care of the maintenance of the lake in the area.

Asked about the issuance of temporary licences to factories operating on agriculture land around the lake, Noorazam said he would look into the matter, including zoning.

“I am against illegal factories and if they have contravened any laws, we will cancel their licences and take necessary action,” he said.

The Star had earlier reported that a green lung near Johor Baru, with a lake in the centre, had become a major dumping ground for both construction materials and hazardous waste.

Fumes from burning chemicals at a nearby illegal dumpsite – which ignite, start smouldering and emit a pungent smell, especially at night – have been a problem for over six years to the 5,000 residents of Taman Bukit Kempas.

Residents have blamed several recycling companies that had set up base illegally on the agricultural land. They claimed that the culprits had dumped waste and toxic materials directly into the lake, which then flows into Sungai Skudai several kilometres away.

They were also worried that the toxic fumes or wastewater from the lake would contaminate farms cultivating vegetables for nearby markets.

State health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan, who visited the site recently, said all the government agencies involved would be given one month to take action against those responsible for the pollution and illegal dumping of construction materials and hazardous waste in the area.

He said the matter had dragged on for too long, adding that he had also raised the matter twice at the weekly state exco meeting chaired by the Mentri Besar.

Vidyananthan suggested that MBJB take the lead to clear the land of all the rubbish and pollution, and bill the landowners for the expenses.

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