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Form panel to look into Johor river pollution, says CAP

A 2021 report by the environment department said 13 of the country’s 23 most polluted rivers were located in Johor. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has urged the government to establish a committee to investigate river pollution in Johor and determine the reasons behind the authorities’ ineffectiveness in addressing the issue.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader emphasised the need for such a committee and an accompanying action plan by citing a series of river pollution incidents in the state, with the latest occurrence happening in the Masai River.

In a statement today, Mohideen said residents have repeatedly reported similar incidents in the past, resulting in foul-smelling and black-coloured water.

Despite numerous complaints to the authorities, he said, no substantial action had been taken, and ad hoc measures had proven insufficient.

“The release of waste from industries, workshops, residential areas, animal farming and agricultural fields are among the main contributors to river pollution,” he said.

“Residents, especially fishermen who rely on the rivers for their livelihoods by catching fish, crabs and shrimp, will lose their source of income if these rivers remain polluted.

“Now is the time for the government to take this issue seriously by forming a special committee to study the level of pollution in Johor rivers and identify the causes of the authorities’ failure to tackle the issue effectively.”

Mohideen also called on the environment department to enforce the Environmental Quality Act 1974 by imposing penalties that reflect the severity of the offences, rather than merely issuing fines.

He noted that the department’s 2021 annual report stated that 13 of the country’s 23 most polluted rivers are located in Johor, with the remaining five in Penang, two in Selangor, and one each in Sarawak, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

His statement comes after Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Shah called for a coordinated approach to address shortcomings in the country’s river management.

On Monday, Sultan Nazrin said that despite the river management strategies and projects that have been implemented, a large part of the local community was uninformed or just not concerned about such issues.

In June, the natural resources, environment and climate change ministry said 29 rivers in the country, or roughly 4% of the 672 rivers, were found to be polluted as of last year.