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Special task force to solve river pollution issue

SHAH ALAM, Oct 26 (Bernama) -- A special task force involving agencies under the federal and Selangor governments will be set up to solve the Semenyih River pollution issue which is affecting the lives of 1.6 million consumers in the state.

Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the task force would see participation from the Department of Environment (DOE) as well as the state government's agencies such as the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas), Kumpulan Air Selangor (Air Selangor) and its local councils.

"Through this cooperation, the (outcome of) investigations and details of evidence that the state government has, need to be submitted to DOE to be collected along with the evidence gathered by DOE.

"We want to ensure a collaborative and continuous investigation (between both governments) so that the river pollution issue which affects the water supply to 1.6 million consumers in Selangor can be solved," he told a press conference here today.

Also present was Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Earlier, Wan Junaidi met Mohamed Azmin to discuss the pollution in Semenyih River which caused the closure of the Semenyih River Water Treatment Plant (LRA) more than five times this year alone.

The minister added, besides Selangor, the task force would also be set up in all states in line with the implementation of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) initiative by the federal government.

Wan Junaidi also said in the meantime, the ministry was now scrutinising all existing laws concerning pollution so that a heavier penalty could be imposed to irresponsible parties.

The ministry was now looking at the laws such as the Environment Act 1974,the Selangor Water Management Authority Enactment 1999 and the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to see which one provide higher penalty and would propose in its investigation papers before submitting to the Attorney-General's Chambers for evaluation, he said.

"We must take stern action as soon as possible to show that we're serious in dealing with the pollution issue in Semenyih River," he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Azmin thanked the minister for discussing with the state government and agreed to set up a task force to overcome the issue collectively.

He also said he was informed by Wan Junaidi that the investigation on the first pollution case of Semenyih River was now over and hoped the parties involved would face justice.

"The state government are conducting internal investigations on two more pollution cases in Semenyih River...we have evidence and will present them to the ministry.

"Even today, we handed over several samples taken from the polluted water and soil of the affected area, as well as other evidence," he said.

The Semenyih River LRA was closed on Sept 22 due to pollution in Semenyih River.

It was closed again on Oct 4 following pollution believed to have triggered from a premises in Lalang River.

On Sunday, the LRA had to be closed again due to odour pollution from the Nilai industrial area, in Negeri Sembilan.

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