JOHOR BARU, Sept 21 — The Sungai Kim Kim rehabilitation project in Pasir Gudang, which will be undertaken by four universities, has been proposed as part of next year’s state Budget, said Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman R. Vidyanathan.

He said the universities involved are Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in collaboration with Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM).

“The project’s proposal paper for allocation in the state Budget has been sent to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad and is to be presented by the end of this year.

“We have received positive feedback on projects aimed at redeveloping river sustainability as well as raising community awareness of river conservation,” said Vidyanathan.

Vidyanathan explained that the project will be conducted in phases starting with UTM this November.

“Each public university will also provide input and contribute their expertise to the project,” he said during a press conference after a lecture by Professor Abdull Rahim Mohd Yusoff entitled “Translational Research: Pasir Gudang, Pontian and Cambodia” at UTM Skudai near here today.

Vidyanathan, who is also the Kahang assemblyman, said the results of the study and suggestions from the universities will also involve the Department of Environment (DOE), Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) and the Johor Economic Planning Division (UPEN).

He said the treatment and rehabilitation project will keep Sungai Kim Kim free of factory waste and pollution, allowing it to become a leisure location.

On the current level of cleanliness of Sungai Kim Kim, Vidyanathan said the government is ensuring that pollution does not recur through various efforts.

“This includes enforcement and inspection by DOE,” he added.

Last year, 4,000 people were hospitalised in March by the initial incident of chemical dumping in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, which resulted in the dispersal of toxic methane gas into the air.

The second incident reportedly took place June 20 and forced the three-day closure of 475 education institutions in Pasir Gudang. It was reported that more than 100 students from over 30 schools were affected.