Punish those who dump rubbish, says group

Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan inspects a dumpsite near Blue Valley in Cameron Highlands. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan inspects a dumpsite near Blue Valley in Cameron Highlands. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Nov 14 — Dump sites continue to appear here with no signs of land clearing and other human activities slowing down. 

Regional Environment Awareness of Cameron Highlands (REACH) president R. Ramakrishnan blamed the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish on lax enforcement.

“The dump sites come up like mushrooms. There isn’t enough enforcement,” he said.

“The time for education is long gone. The only way to effect change is to impose punitive measures that hurt their wallets.” 

In July, Malay Mail highlighted the prevalence of these dump sites, which contributed to floods. 

During heavy rainfall, the rubbish from these dump sites fell into rivers, restricting the flow of the water.

This in turn increased the likelihood of the rivers bursting their banks.

There are 126 rivers and tributaries in Cameron Highlands. Many flow into the Sultan Abu Bakar dam, located near the Ringlet town.

A portion of the rubbish eventually ends up in the Sultan Abu Bakar dam. Coupled with sedimentation, the piles of rubbish drastically reduce the dam’s capacity to hold water.

To put things into perspective, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) collects about two tonnes of solid waste every week from the reservoir of the Sultan Abu Bakar dam.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2014 mud-floods, a TNB statement blamed the disaster on excessive rains in the area which swelled rivers and carried loads of sediment and rubbish into the Ringlet Lake — the reservoir for the dam.

This caused lake levels to rise by over two metres an hour, which was more than double the increase during the Bertam Valley mud-flood in October 2013.

The rapid increase forced TNB to slowly release water from the dam into Sungai Bertam, flooding the nearby areas.

Ramakrishnan said some recycling centres — largely used for domestic waste—had recently been closed in Cameron Highlands.

However, he noted that the most serious dumping activities were off-shoots of agricultural and development activities.

Most of the farms in Cameron Highlands are located outside the limits of the local council, which means the agriculture waste is not under the council’s purview.

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