Penang govt forms task force for polluted river in Batu Maung

The garbage-strewn Sungai Nipah is pictured in Batu Maung November 5, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
The garbage-strewn Sungai Nipah is pictured in Batu Maung November 5, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 5 — A taskforce has been formed to look into the illegal dumping of trash into a river in Batu Maung, Penang state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain said.

The Batu Maung assemblyman said the taskforce, formed yesterday, is chaired by the district officer.

“There are two rivers facing pollution in this area, one is Sungai Kluang where foaming has been observed due to illegal discharge and this river, Sungai Nipah which recycling companies, restaurants and residents near the river have been using as a dumping ground,” he said in a press conference at the riverside in Kampung Naran, Batu Maung.

He said Sungai Nipah is often used as a dumping ground, leading to it being filled with plastic bottles and all types of rubbish.

“The river was just cleared yesterday and look at it today, it is filled with rubbish again, less than 24 hours later,” he said.

In the short-term, he said compounds will be issued to the recycling companies and restaurants found to have dumped rubbish into the river.

“The authorities such as the Department of Environment (DoE), the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), the city council and police will be issuing compounds to those found to have dumped rubbish into this river,” he said.

He said there are four recycling companies located near the river and the DID have issued notices to the companies since 2018.

“We need to take strict action against those who dumped rubbish into the river such as having their permits cancelled and those located on TOL land will have their TOL cancelled,” he said, referring to the Temporary Occupation Licence, a permit that grants its holder the right to use state land for a period of time.

Halim said there is a need to look into amending the local by-laws to impose heavier penalties on those who pollute rivers indiscriminately.

He said the Batu Maung area is often used for illegal dumping of industrial and construction waste.

“We need heavier penalties to put a stop to this,” he said.

He hoped that in the long term, the DID can look into reviving Sungai Nipah from its current highly polluted condition.

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