Chemical pollution: Culprits must pay, says NGO

Checking the water quality today. Photo: BernamaChecking the water quality today. Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The Global Environment Centre (GEC) has urged the government, especially the Department of Environment (DoE), to ensure that those responsible for dumping toxic or chemical waste into any river in the country will pay the cost of the rehabilitation of the river, as well as the cost of treatment of people who suffer from the health effects of the pollution.

GEC manager Dr Kalithasan Kailasam insisted that those who polluted the river with the disposal of dangerous toxic materials should be brought to justice and punished.

“Those responsible for the pollution must pay all the cost of the rehabilitation of the river and the cost of treatment of the people whose health was affected by the pollution.

“The GEC strongly condemns this action of dumping toxic pollutants into the river…and the government is obliged to impose stern action on the offenders under the existing Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he told Bernama here today.

He said this in response to the report that all 111 schools in Pasir Gudang had been ordered to close indefinitely by the Ministry of Education following air pollution due to toxic fumes emanating from chemical waste dumped into Sungai Kim Kim last Thursday.

Kalithasan said the GEC has lobbied the public over the past 10 years to become the country’s eyes and ears in addressing river pollution issues.

“The public can take action by reporting to the local authorities via river report cards or to the GEC through River Of Life (ROL) Citizen’s Eye mobile app.

“The public and the stakeholders can also set up a special group like River Ranger or ‘Sahabat Sungai’ to be the eyes and ears of the government to monitor the health of our rivers,” he said.

Meanwhile, founder of EcoKnights Yasmin Rashid said that the public could also use the e-complaint platform developed by the DoE to report any misconduct or action of factories in dumping their  toxic waste in the local rivers.

“The e-complaint system is an initiative set up to enable the public to connect with DoE regarding pollution complaints at any time without boundaries of time and distance.

“It is quite sad to see our government spent so much money on this platform but the public  did not use it regularly to report on river issue,” she told  Bernama.

Yasmin said that there were many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the beautification and preservation of nature, which could be joined by parents to lure and educate their children to love the environment from a young age.

“There are so many NGOs in our country that focus on environmental care. The EcoKnights, for example, has a River Explorer programme held during every school holiday, and we do hope that parents can educate their children to join this kind of activity to nurture their love for the earth,”  she added. –Bernama



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