KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — The Selangor government plans to increase the penalty for polluters who affect water sources to RM1 million, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said today.
He said the state will seek to amend the Selangor Water Management Board (LUAS) Enactment 1999 at the next state legislative assembly sitting, national news agency Bernama reported.
However, Amiruddin said the state has limited powers to impose harsher punishments for offences related to contaminants of raw water resources compared to federal agencies.
“The Environmental Quality Act actually has broader powers to increase penalties such as whipping, imprisonment and deprivation.
“Even the power to sue does not fall under the state government but with the Attorney-General," he was quoted telling reporters after officiating the Selangor State Budget Dialogue 2021 in Shah Alam.
Amirudin’s response came after Malaysians, including lawmakers from both sides of the political divide, called for harsher punishment to be meted out to those who commit offences related to water pollution.
Over the weekend, DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago said measly fines would not deter big companies from disrupting the water supply of millions of people.
The former National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman had also recommended that the water polluters be brought to court under the Water Services Industries Act 2006 where an offender faces imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine not exceeding RM500,000, or whipping, or to all three punishments.
On September 4, Minister of Science and Technology Khairy Jamaluddin also voiced similar concerns, calling for the Water Services Industry Act and the Environment Quality Act to be amended.
He said that water resources should also be categorised under national security and said that he would bring the matter to Cabinet.
A total of 1,292 areas in the Klang Valley, Petaling, Klang/Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat, involving nearly 1.2 million consumer accounts, were affected by the unscheduled water cut last Thursday after four treatment plants ceased operations.
The police have since arrested four brothers in connection with the odour pollution incident in the Sungai Gong Industrial Area in Rawang, the source of the pollution. The four men are directors of the factory implicated in the incident.
One of the factories behind the contamination in Sungai Selangor has also been shut down by authorities.
As previously reported, Selangor State Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology, Innovation and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said the culprit is a factory that provides service and maintenance for heavy machinery and equipment.
The factory responsible was identified as Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd located at Kampung Sungai Dua in Rawang. AAY Construction Sdn Bhd is also located in the same premises.
According to Hee, the factory was found to have neglected proper procedure when it comes to storing waste oil. He added traces of solvent odour was detected flowing into the river.