Malaysia: Johor moves to clean up 28 polluted rivers

The Star 17 Mar 17;

KLUANG: The State Economic Planning Unit (Upen) has been tasked with coming out with a plan to clean and rehabilitate polluted rivers in Johor.

State Health, Environment, Educational and Information committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the directive was made at the state executive council meeting on Thursday.

Upen was told to coordinate with the relevant agencies when implementing its plan.

“We are focusing on rivers which are the main source of raw water supply to treatment plants,” said Ayub.

He said that among the 28 rivers categorised as polluted were Sungai Jibong, Sungai Singgol, Sungai Semenchu, Sungai Simpang Kanan, Sungai Sembrong and Sungai Kim.

Among the measures to be taken were relocating squatter settlements now at the river banks and shutting down illegal businesses operating near the rivers, he said.

He was speaking after attending the World Kidney Day 2017 state-level celebration at Hospital Enche Besar Hajjah Khalsom yesterday.

Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar had directed the state government and local authorities to come down hard on those polluting rivers.

The directive came after the Sultan made a spot check by boat along Sungai Tebrau with his son Tunku Panglima Johor Tunku Abdul Rahman on Wednesday.

The Ruler expressed his regret over the irresponsible dumping of rubbish into the river, saying that this was one of the main causes of floods in Johor Baru.

Ayub also said state authorities were closely monitoring the H1N1 avian flu outbreak in Kelantan although there were no cases reported in Johor.

Ayub said chickens and ducks here were safe for consumption and that the authorities were prepared, should there be an outbreak in the state.


Stern warning to river polluters
KATHLEEN ANN KILI The Star 17 Mar 17;

JOHOR BARU: Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has ordered the state government and local authorities to come down hard on those responsible for polluting Sungai Tebrau.

Sultan Ibrahim, accompanied by his son Tunku Panglima Johor Tunku Abdul Rahman, made a surprise visit by boat to check on the polluted river on March 14.

In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, the ruler expressed regret over the irresponsible dumping of rubbish into the river.

Sultan Ibrahim cited this as one of the main causes of flash floods here.

The post, which had garnered more than 5,000 likes, was attached with a video showing the ruler manning an airboat while his son travelled beside him on another airboat.

Environmentalist Vincent Chow called on the state government to take action against those responsible for river pollution in Johor.

The Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) chairman said that Sungai Tebrau once had a lot of shellfish but their population has declined over the years and currently only South American and African catfish inhabit the river.

“Our local marine species cannot survive in the water there which has very low oxygen levels.

“The river has been contaminated by factory effluents and solid waste from upstream where residential and industrial areas are located,” he said when contacted here.

Chow noted that river pollution has not been addressed effectively so far and it was high time the authorities do something about it before it is too late.

Chow said although there are sufficient policies and laws to protect rivers in the state, enforcement was lacking.

“If the pollution is not addressed soon, the state government will likely have to fork out a lot more to clean the river in the future.

“The government should enforce the law and educate the people on the consequences of dirty rivers,” he said in calling on the authorities to meet with related non-government organisations on the matter.

Citing Sungai Johor as another example, Chow said that the upper part of the river had been polluted due to sand mining, which has been going on for more than 15 years.

“The muddy discharge streams down the river.

“The pollution has affected marine life as the population of fish and udang galah (giant fresh water prawns) has dwindled by some 60% to 70%,” he added.


Johor EPU to plan clean-up of polluted rivers
ZAZALI MUSA The Star 16 Mar 17;

KLUANG: Johor has directed the state Economic Planning Unit to come up with a long-term plan to clean up and rehabilitate polluted and dirty rivers in the state.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state EPU would coordinate with the relevant agencies and departments in implementing the plans.

Ayub said there were six rivers in the state classified as polluted, including Sungai Tebrau, Sungai Skudai, Sungai Segget and Sungai Alor Merah in Pontian.

"The cleaning up and rehabilitation process will focus on rivers which are the main source of water for water treatment plants," he said.

He said the decision was made during the weekly state Cabinet meeting on Wednesday following a directive by Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar to the state government and local authorities.

Sultan Ibrahim made the order after a spot check by boat to observe river pollution along Sungai Tebrau on March 14.

The Ruler was accompanied by his son Tunku Panglima Johor Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Sultan Ibrahim had expressed regret over the irresponsible dumping of thrash into the river.

"Among the measures to be taken by the authorities are to relocate illegal squatter settlements and companies operating along the rivers in Johor," said Ayub.

He said this at a press conference after launching the state-level World Kidney Day 2017 celebration at Hospital Enche' Besar Hajjah Khalsom here on Thursday.


Gov't dept tasked to clean up Sungai Tebrau, run awareness campaigns
Chuah Bee Kim New Straits Times 16 Mar 17;

JOHOR BARU: The state’s Economic Planning Unit and Department of Irrigation and Drainage have been tasked to coordinate the clean-up of Sungai Tebrau, where the quality of the river has been found to be slightly polluted.

The river, which is also inundated with rubbish, will undergo a clean-up programme with the help of representatives from various government departments.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat told a press conference here today that the 32km long river is dotted four illegal squatter areas and 1,166 industrial players.

The river, which starts from the Senai International Airport, runs through Kg Maju Jaya, Kempas, Bandar Dato Onn, Pandan Wholesale Market and Kampung Bakar Batu before flowing into Tebrau Straits.

Of the 1,166 industries, nine did not have proper discharge facilities. The river also has eight tributaries and the cost of maintaining the eight tributaries is RM90,000 per month.

“We are in the midst of relocating the squatters to flats. At the same time, we need to organise awareness programmes as public awareness is not there.

“When the awareness is not there, no matter how many times we make the effort to clean the river, the rubbish woe will re-surface,” he added.

“Cooperation among the different government departments is important in our bid to improve the quality of the river (currently classified under Category Three),” he said.

Besides Sungai Tebrau, another six rivers in the state are also being reviewed under the Water Blueprint. One of the rivers is Sungai Skudai.

Also present at the press conference were Johor Department of Environment director Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh and Johor Baru City Council mayor Datuk A Rahim Nin.

Rahim said Sungai Tebrau has many tributaries, which flows into the Tebrau Straits, and can affect the neighbouring country.

He added that plans are afoot to install trash traps, however, this would add to the local council’s monthly RM90,000 maintenance cost.

The inspection of Sungai Tebrau was made after Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had personally visited the site and called for a clean-up of the river.

In another matter, Mohammad Ezanni said the death of fishes in Danga Bay here recently was not caused by the rubbish pollution but the weather condition.

Johor to raise awareness on keeping rivers clean
KATHLEEN ANN KILI The Star 18 Mar 17;

JOHOR BARU: The state government will be going all out to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of river cleanliness.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said that awareness in the community was an important factor to ensure the rivers are kept clean.

“I have made a visit along Sungai Tebrau and from my immediate observation, piles of rubbish are more noticeable near squatter settlements by the riverbanks.

“As such, we will put more focus on educating the public on river cleanliness and the effects of dumping rubbish into the river,” he said.

Ayub added that there was no point for the authorities to keep on clearing rubbish from rivers, if the community did not play its part.

“We have also roped in youth councils from each district to be our eyes and ears and monitor activities along the rivers statewide,” he said.

He explained that the cleanliness of river did not fall on the shoulders on a particular department but was the responsibility of a network of agencies.

“The Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) looks into issues by the riverbanks but the water quality is under the prerogative of the Environment Department (DOE) which monitors water quality.

“Moreover, if the source of pollution is from the surrounding industries then DOE is in charge, but if it has to do with animal rearing, then it falls on the shoulders of the Veterinary Department,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar had ordered the state government and local authorities to come down hard on those responsible for polluting Sungai Tebrau.

Sultan Ibrahim, accompanied by his son Tunku Panglima Johor Tunku Abdul Rahman, made a surprise visit by boat to check on the polluted Sungai Tebrau on Tuesday.

Expressing his regrets over the irresponsible dumping of rubbish into the river, the ruler cited the pollutants as one of the main causes of flash floods here.

Meanwhile, Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) mayor A Rahim Nin, who was also present at the press conference, said the council would be installing rubbish traps along Sungai Tebrau to deal with the load of trash.

“However, as stressed earlier, education is key to contain rubbish being dumped into the river and keep it under control.

“Currently, MBJB carries out clean-up works on eight tributaries along Sungai Tebrau, at a cost of RM90,000 a month,” he added.

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