Dr Xavier: Govt mulls stiffer penalties for water polluters

Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the current punishment of RM10,000 fine or a year’s jail term, or both, is still not deterrent enough, hence, it is important to raise both penalties. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the current punishment of RM10,000 fine or a year’s jail term, or both, is still not deterrent enough, hence, it is important to raise both penalties. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — In the wake of several water supply disruptions due to pollution, the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources today signalled its intention to review the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Wasia) and to impose heavier punishments on polluters.

Its Minister, Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar said the current punishment of RM10,000 fine or a year’s jail term, or both, is still not deterrent enough, hence, it is important to raise both penalties.

“RM10,000 is not enough, and a year’s jail term is also not enough. I will think about increasing both punishments, as well as the immediate close-down of the factories that pollute water resources.

“It will take a bit of time for us to go through Wasia Act but I think by next year, if everything goes as planned, we will be able to table it in Parliament by end of next year,” he told a press conference after officiating the Malaysia International Water Convention 2019 (MIWC) here, today.

Following this, Dr Xavier said he has instructed both National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) to be more thorough in their investigations and to conduct stricter enforcement in the future.

He also planned to get the private sectors involved in the water industry as the federal government itself cannot be the only one responsible to pump funds into the industry.

Besides stricter enforcement, the minister advised industrial players to change their systems and attitude in disposing waste water.

“We have come to the stage where we cannot tolerate the discharge of raw waste water into the main streams. If you are caught, you are going to pay a heavy price.

“Let it be a warning to anyone who think they can get away with it, we are now having more systems in order to monitor and find the sites (waste dumping),” he said.

When asked whether there were elements of sabotage to the water disruptions, the minister did not rule out the possibility, but would leave it to the police to investigate.

“The element of sabotage is for the police to investigate and to come up with evidence. It is something we have to look at,” he added.

Last week, Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) announced a water supply cut affecting 372,031 households in Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang districts in Selangor due to a foul odour in Sungai Semenyih.

Prior to this, there was another odour pollution incident detected in the raw water source in Sungai Semenyih in June.

In July, odour pollution was also detected in the raw water source in Sungai Selangor and later in the same month, diesel contamination was detected in the water source in Sungai Selangor, which resulted in the shutdown of four water treatment plants. — Bernama

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