Amendments for heavier punishments against environmental criminals awaiting Cabinet’s approval, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR : The proposed amendments to the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Act 655) to provide heavier punishments on environmental criminals are awaiting approval from the Cabinet, Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the amendments were expected to tabled in Parliament next year.

“Among the proposed amendments are to increase the fine from RM100,000 to RM10 million and jail sentence from one year to 15 years, while the Department of Environment (DOE) is also amending the Environmental Quality Act (AKAS) 1974, seeking for higher penalties.

Apart from that, amendments will also be made to empower the police to take enforcement action under the two acts,” he said at a question-and-answer session today.

He said this in reply to a question from Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin (Barisan Nasional-Rompin), who wanted to know the number of companies prosecuted for causing river pollution resulting in water supply disruption.

Speaking on the action against river polluters, Tuan Ibrahim said between Jan 1 and Sept 30, 61 premises owners were taken to court and fined RM1.489 million for committing offences related to water pollution and scheduled waste management.

“During the same period, the DOE conducted 17,445 inspections on premises subject to the AKAS 1974 nationwide and received 7,872 complaints regarding environmental pollution,” he said.

He also said the ministry was seeking alternative measures to ensure continuous supply of treated water if the operations of water treatment plants have to be stopped due to pollution at the raw water source.

This would be done by increasing the capacity of water treatment plants to produce a three-day margin for treated water reserve and building riverside water reservoirs (TAPS) to facilitate the supply of water for two weeks when the water source runs out.

On measures to ensure uninterrupted water supply to consumers, Tuan Ibrahim said the ministry would increase the margin of water reserve by 15% to 20%, upgrade existing water treatment plants (LRAs) to enhance their capacity and build new LRAs.

He said to minimise the risk of water disruption like the recent incident in the Klang Valley, the ministry had submitted a proposal to implement the TAPS project in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) as an alternative water source, which would also serve as a flood control mechanism.

“Under the 11MP, four TAPS projects have been approved, namely TAPS Jernih, TAPS Melaka, TAPS Sungai Johor and TAPS Linggi with a total allocation of RM1.4 billion,” he said, adding that the ministry also plans to build two more TAPS at Sungai Semenyih and Sungai Selangor as alternative water sources.

BERNAMA

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