KUALA LUMPUR: As the blame game continues over the pollution in the Sungai Semenyih, frustrated water conservation groups say playing politics is not going to solve the Klang Valley’s water problem.
The Selangor government is claiming sabotage in the disruption on Sunday and another earlier this month when pollution caused the Semenyih water treatment plan to shut down, causing some 1.6 million residents to go without water.
The claims became debate fodder in Parliament, with Selangor Umno daring the state to lodge a police report over the allegations.
Responding to the arguments, Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) president S. Piarapakaran said no criminal element had ever been found in river pollution cases here.
It has always been factories dumping chemicals into the water.
“If that (the claims of sabotage) is true, these people should be treated like terrorists. But I don’t think that’s the case here. When the mentri besar said it appeared systematic – of course. Because companies doing this do not want to be caught.
“To pollute a river of that size, it won’t be one person carrying 10 drums, it’s not possible. If they tried to do it in an industrial area or a kampung, for sure someone will notice them,” he said, attributing to the “alarming” number of cases to the poor enforcement and lack of manpower in the Department of Environment (DOE).
Piarapakaran said businesses looking to save costs on treating waste water could always be expected to cut corners and called on politicians to look at the issue seriously. He called on Selangor to develop a comprehensive inventory of chemicals and the companies that have them so the culprits are identified.
Water and Energy Consumer Association of Malaysia (Wecam) president Saravanan Thambirajah was frustrated that authorities did not appear to have a Plan B for supplying water to Malaysia’s most populous state.
“The festive season is coming up. We are really frustrated because the people’s voices and grievances are not heard and authorities are very slow in taking action.
“So far, no one has come up with an action plan to combat this issue and no explanation has been given.
“Three disruptions in one month has a huge negative implication on people and businesses. The authorities need to wake up,” said Saravanan.
Earlier this month, media reports quoted Selangor officials saying there could be an element of sabotage when a strange odour in the Sungai Semenyih halted water treatment. The source of the pollutant was traced to a recycling factory in Taman Sri Haneco, Semenyih.
Over the weekend, areas in Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang districts again faced temporary water disruption following the shutdown of the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant because of odour pollution in the river yesterday morning.
Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor group corporate communication head Amin Lin Abdullah said the source of odour in the river was suspected to be from the industrial area in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.