Malaysia: Johor to totally disallow river sand mining activities

The Star 24 Nov 16;

JOHOR BARU: All sand mining activities along major waterways and rivers in the state will be stopped to protect water resources after rainfall dropped by more than half this year compared with previous years.

Johor Public Works, Rural and Regional Development committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said a ban had been imposed since this year and those with existing permits would not be able to continue after it expires in December.

“We want river sand mining activities to be stopped to protect our waterways especially Sg Muar and Sg Johor which supply water to thousands of people,” he said, adding that more than a dozen sand mining companies were affected by the ban.

Hasni said the state had already gazetted at least 14 out of the 17 dams statewide.

“The last three dams to be gazetted soon are Sembrong, Bekok and Kahang and the next step is to gazette the water catchment areas,” he said.

This would require discussions with many parties and agencies as it involves a huge area around the dams, said Hasni.

“Once an area is gazetted as a protected zone, people cannot encroach into the area or carry out any farming or other activities there,” he added.

Hasni said a lot of effort was being put in place to protect the rivers after the drop in rainfall compared with the usual amount recorded in previous years.

The state will buy patrol boats for the water regulatory body Bakaj to operate along rivers and waterways to check on polluters.

“We will also need to purchase smaller boats to check on tributaries too,” he said, adding that those who pollute the rivers should be taken to court.

“Johor is rapidly developing and we need to ensure we have continuous supply of water to attract investors,” he said when opening a water awareness programme for schoolchildren organised by Syarikat Air Johor.