Malaysia: Fighting the hot spell and dry taps

MAZWIN NIK ANIS The Star 29 Apr 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The military will be mobilised to send treated water to areas where the taps have run dry, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

At the same time, dams deemed critical will be pumped with water sourced from nearby rivers and lakes, and from underground.

These are the immediate measures decided on by the central disaster committee chaired by Dr Ahmad Zahid to ease the water shortage problem brought on by the prolonged hot spell.

The Cabinet, which met on Wednesday, had directed the committee to look for solutions.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the use of military facilities and equipment to send water to affected areas in Chini, Pahang and Dengkil, Selangor began three days ago.

The same will be done for other affected areas.

The committee is also in the midst of arranging for dams to be filled up. Seven dams at highly critical levels get priority.

The water reserve at Timah Tasoh dam in Perlis is only at 13.2% currently; Bukit Merah in Perak is at 13.66% and Gemencheh in Negri Sembilan is at 19.97%.

Four dams in Johor are also badly affected – Lebam (26.53%), Congok (32.28%), Layang (18.46%) and Labong (10%).

There are 41 dams in peninsular Malaysia.

On whether the Bukit Merah Dam area would be declared a disaster zone, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the matter had legal and financial implications.

“There will be some implications, especially when there is compensation to be paid out.

“So for the time being, we will look at how we can help improve the water level at the dam and ensure the people there get sufficient water supply for consumption and agriculture,” he said.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir had said that there was a possibility the Bukit Merah Dam area would be declared a disaster zone as the water at the dam was at a critical level.

No 'disaster area' status for Bukit Merah and Timah Tasoh
HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN New Straits Times 28 Apr 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The government has decided not declare Bukit Merah, Perak and Timah Tasoh, Perlis as disaster areas after considering the financial and legal aspects.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there were great implications involved if the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) were to declare those areas as disaster areas.

"We have taken into consideration the state governments' request for the declaration; however, we must study the matter in detail.

"If the states are declared as disaster areas, the government must pay compensation to farmers; these were among other details that must be considered", he said after chairing the high-level Cabinet Committee on Disasters today.

However, he said, the meeting had suggested for the installation of pipes to Tasik Merah, deepening of Tasik Merah and others to mitigate the water shortage problem.

Zahid said seven out of 41 dams in the country were at critical level.

The dams are Bukit Merah, Timah Tasoh, Gemencheh, Lebam, Congok, Layang and Labong.

200 heat-related cases this year
LOH FOON FONG The Star 29 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Two hundred cases of heat-related illness had been reported in government health facilities nationwide, the Health Ministry reported.

Of the number, two people have died so far this year, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said that 52 cases (26%) were due to heat cramps, 126 due to heat exhaustion (63%) and 22 were due to heat stroke (11%).

“The ministry will continue to monitor heat-related illness nationwide,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature increases suddenly and it fails to sweat. The person’s temperature will increase to 41°C within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke could lead to death or permanent disability if the condition is not controlled.

The first death involved a 23-year-old police cadet during a training exercise in Segamat, Johor.

The latest involved another trainee, also aged 23, who was undergoing the Basic Course for Young Army Volunteers at a polytechnic in Jitra, Kedah, on April 26.

There were also six cases of heat cramps reported involving trainees at the same course. All received outpatient treatment.