Time to Treat Water Pollution as Terrorist Attack!!
Water pollution & water disruption to consumers is not new – the above was back in October 2016 when it was discovered that a toxic solvent had been dumped into a tributary of a river that flows into the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant. Earlier this month, the plant was shut down due to “odor pollution”.
On Sept 23, it was closed due to contamination from Sungai Lalang near the Semenyih Hitech area, and a day earlier, it was shut down due to contamination believed to be from an illegal factory along Jalan Sungai Lalang. Image source: The Star
Considering how water pollution is causing hardship to the consumers in this country and the level of punishment is not enough to stop pollution from recurring (and causing water supply disruptions), we need to treat all these polluters as terrorists and water pollution in particular as a determined terrorist attack.
Think about it – these polluters know that it is illegal to dump chemicals, sewer waste, oils and toxic waste into the river which is a source of drinking water for thousands of consumer. They are directly & knowingly endangering the consumers and there is no good excuse for their act – ignorance is not a defence. Water disruption will have impact on the cost of living too – more money now needs to be spent to buy bottled water and bigger inconvenience especially on family with small children. Sounds extreme?
Contamination of water sources must be regarded as a threat to national security and well-being and dealt with urgently, the Malaysian Bar said.
I am telling this because the bloody thing happened again last night!
We came back home from dinner outside after prayers to my late Dad at a nearby temple. After parking the car, I walked by the water filter at the porch and noticed something out of place – the pressure indicator showed zero. I checked the water outlet and true enough, there was not water.
At first I suspected a leakage – because couple days ago there was leak from the water meter which got replaced after a few days lodging a formal complaint with Air Selangor. I double check but there were no leakages. I checked on the resident’s communication channel for any news and true enough, the whole neighbourhood had water disruption too – one of the neighbours finally shared a statement from Air Selangor on the unscheduled water supply.
The statement added that the source of the contamination had been traced to a sewage treatment facility in Bandar Mahkota and that it has notified the relevant authorities to take immediate action to stop the contamination.
“Some 372,031 users in the Petaling district, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang will experience unscheduled water cuts due to the contamination.
“This is the fourth such incident this year that involves a main plant, leading to unscheduled water cuts encompassing large areas,” Air Selangor said.
I got pissed off when I heard that water disruption was due to pollution again! Didn’t we go through the same thing a number of times for this year alone?
Seriously, these polluters need to be labelled as terrorist and the harshest punishment need to be given to all those found guilty of polluting. In fact the law does provide for this under Section 121 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 which states:-
(1) A person who contaminates or causes to be contaminated any watercourse or the water supply system or any part of the water course or water supply system with any substance:-
(a) with the intention to cause death;
(b) with the knowledge that he is likely to cause death; or
(c) which would likely endanger the life of any person, commits an offence.
(2) A person found guilty of an offence under subsection (1), on conviction
a) where death is the result of the act, shall be PUNISHED WITH DEATH or imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and where the punishment is not death, he shall also be liable to whipping;
(b) where death is not the result of the act but the substance which is used to contaminate the watercourse or water supply system or any part of the watercourse or the water supply system is a radioactive or toxic substance, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand ringgit or to whipping or to all three; or
(c) in any other case, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both
Considering even with such law in place, why then it has not been a good deterrent for these polluters? When then, there have been a high number of water pollution cases last one year?
Lack of enforcement is one thing – it is not easy to “guard” the place from the offenders but regular check up on the factories and industries along the rivers and water catchment areas will keep these companies on their toes from discharging any of the industrial waste into the rivers. Streamlining the enforcement between various agencies needs to be done to avoid red-tapes and administrative delays in bringing down the culprits to face the law:-
Under the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) 1974, the Department of Environment (DOE) only has the power to summon polluters at the federal level. As such, the DOE cannot take action against illegal or unlicensed factories, wet markets, food stalls and squatters.
It is not unreasonable to say that this division of jurisdiction has led to many cases involving the pollution of rivers going unprosecuted.
This was evident in 2016 when Sungai Semenyih in Selangor was hit by an odour pollution, the source of which was an illegal factory.
And then there is a lack of harsh punishments to companies or factories who consider fines cheaper than the high cost to process the waste. It is apparent that the possibility of 10 years of imprisonment or hefty fine already proven as insufficient to deter future polluters from causing pollution to the rivers.
At times, these factories especially if they are illegal simply don’t care – they will continue breach the law and the fines will continue to compound. They take advantage with the lack of enforcement and punishment that barely impacts them:-
The factory had also been issued six compound notices, involving fines totalling RM12,000, by the DOE for breaching regulations on the management of its scheduled waste and imposed a prohibition order under the Environmental Quality Act since last Jan 30 for a building an extension that was used for lead-melting, he added.
For these companies, such loopholes need to be closed – perhaps with heavier punishment to the directors of the company, revocation of their business licenses and confiscation of the land where they are doing their business – all of which to run concurrently. There should not be any more cases where these offenders to be allowed to operate despite getting fines from the authorities.
Further the harshest punishment for individuals (after all, there must be someone doing the discharge to pollute the waters for these companies) need to be made mandatory as well – irrespective the outcome of the pollution – death or otherwise, the Government need to amend the punishment to just one i.e. such offenders shall be punished by death or imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and where the punishment is not death, he shall also be liable to whipping – not ifs or buts.
It’s funny that we are whacking the Indonesian Government for not doing enough to stop the intentional forest fires that causes haze every year and out, we seems to be not doing enough on water pollution which causes frequent water disruptions for millions of Malaysians every year.
We need to strict on the enforcement & application of the law and we need label these polluters as terrorist / a serious threat to national security.
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