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Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources , Dr Xavier Jayakumar speech during Malaysia International Water Convention 2019 at Pantai 2 STP. NSTP/Nurul Shafina Jemenon

BANTING: All state governments are urged to seriously take measures to overcome river pollution as climate change could result in the country experiencing long periods of drought in future.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar said river pollution was not a new issue but if still ignored, the country could face the problem of lack of clean water sources when facing drought.

“In the next 10 to 15 years, the country may face drought periods of more than 60 days due to climate change and we will lack clean water sources if the issue of river pollution remains unsolved.

“That is why enforcement (against river pollution) must improve and all parties including local authorities and industries must play a big role in overcoming this issue,” he told reporters after officiating at the Klang District Tamil Schools Athletics Championships at Jugra Stadium here today.

Xavier was asked to comment on a local press report today which described the enforcement against pollution of rivers in this country as weak.

While he understood that rehabilitating polluted rivers took a long time, Xavier said careful planning should start immediately with priority given to cleaning up the most polluted rivers first.

He said the ‘Love Our Rivers’ campaign that had been held before should be reactivated, besides fostering cooperation with all relevant parties including residents, farmers and logging companies on adhering to the environmental law in order to protect and conserve rivers.

“We will be going to schools to promote this campaign while the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has also been asked to draw up educational programmes on this issue,” he said.

Xavier said his ministry would also carry out a full study on rivers and pollution, while in the 12th Malaysia Plan, an allocation would be proposed for the rehabilitation of rivers including the production of raw and treated water.

He said the ministry also planned to review the National Forestry Act 1984 and for the proposed amendments to be brought to the parliament sitting by March next year, the latest.

The minister said amendments to the Act, involving forests in Peninsular Malaysia, were aimed at tightening law enforcement and imposing heavier penalties.

“Now we see people entering the forests (particularly forest reserves) without permission or licence. What is their purpose of entering these forests if not for doing something? If they want to enter a forest, they need to declare their intention.

“As such, this step (reviewing the Act) is to restrict people’s entry into the forests (particularly forest reserves) and to give power to the respective forestry department directors and their enforcement officers to better safeguard the forests’ ecosystem,” he said. - Bernama

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