KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — The Cabinet will meet and discussed the toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor tomorrow, Khalid Abdul Samad said today.
The Federal Territories minister said discussions would cover the ongoing emergency operations underway there as well as punishment for the polluters who triggered the forced closure of all 111 schools in the industrial district and made 506 people sick, nine critically so.
“Under the current law, river pollution only includes a fine but this is more than just a matter of polluting a river. It has come to the extent of making people physically sick.
So we will discuss the punishment of those responsible,” he told reporters after launching the mega clean up initiative for the city, dubbed the KL Bersih programme here.
Two factory owners and one worker were detained by the Johor Department of Environment three days ago on suspicion of dumping industrial waste into the river.
One of the owners was supposed to be charged at a Magistrate’s Court in Johor this morning under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, but the prosecution has since postponed the case pending further investigation.
Under the law, those convicted under Section 34B can be jailed up to five years or fined RM500,000.
When asked if an emergency should be declared in the affected zone, Khalid said the situation was still under the control.
“God willing, there is no need for that. It is not that severe,” he said, adding that the Cabinet was kept apprised.
Earlier today in Parliament, several federal lawmakers including the area’s MP, Hassan Abdul Karim, urged the government to declare a state of emergency in Pasir Gudang.
Hassan had pressed for an emergency motion to discuss the sought declaration.
Umno’s Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan backed Hassan’s request and said the government should compensate families affected.