Malaysia water cuts: Graft buster launches probe into river pollution in Selangor

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has begun investigations into the Sungai Gong pollution which led to over 1.2 million users in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor facing water cuts from last Thursday (Sep 3).

In a statement on Tuesday, the MACC said the investigation is intended to analyse whether there were elements of corruption in the incident, including among enforcement officers.

Residents queuing up to collect water from an Air Selangor tanker. (Photo: Bernama)

“MACC therefore appeals to members of the public with any information on the matter to come forward,” said the statement.

Malaysians in 1,292 areas in seven districts in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor faced water disruption since the early hours last Thursday, after pollution was detected at the raw water source of Sungai Selangor Phase 1, 2, 3 and Rantau Panjang water treatment plants. 

Water provider Air Selangor said in a statement then that the pollution level was detected at 3 Threshold Odour Number (TON).

According to a United Kingdom-based Water Research Center, the TON of pollutants in water can be determined by adding a volume of unpolluted water into a volume of polluted water, and then divide the total volume by the volume of polluted water.

The more water needed to make the odour undetectable, the higher the TON reading.

Selangor Chief Minister Amirudin Shari said last Friday that one of the factories behind the cause of contamination in Rawang has been shut down by authorities for two weeks. 

The factory was alleged to have released solvent into Sungai Gong, which flows into Sungai Sembah, one of the main rivers of Sungai Selangor.

The chief minister said the next day that the factory has been instructed to vacate the land.

Workers conducting works on a water pipe. (Photo: Air Selangor)

Selangor police chief Noor Azam Jamaludin said four factory managers detained as suspects for the case would be remanded for six days starting Sep 5 for further investigations.

The four are reported to be siblings aged between 50 and 60 years old. 

On Monday, the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) said the factory responsible for the pollution had been operating illegally since 2014.

The council said the factory was issued a notice but had ignored it.

“Besides operating without a licence, we also found that the factory was built without MPS permission,” said MPS corporate department director Mohamad Zin Masoad.

He said the factory which repairs heavy machinery was among the 308 other factories found to be operating illegally under MPS’ jurisdiction.

On the same day, two more factory workers aged 20 and 57 were remanded for six days.

They are all being held under Section 430 of the Penal Code for allegedly committing mischief by causing a diminution in the supply of water for agricultural purposes, or for food or drink for human beings or for animals.

They face a jail term of between five and 30 years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

WATER SUPPLY MOSTLY RESTORED

On Tuesday, Air Selangor in a statement said water supply has been restored in most of the affected households as of 12.30pm. 

“For now water supply has been restored in 1,227 areas out of the 1,292 affected areas. Recovery rate is at 94.97 per cent,” it said.

By : D Kanyakumari – CNA

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