Malaysian National News Agency

Sungai Juru Tops Malaysia's Most Polluted Rivers
April 15, 2006 09:58 AM
By Azeman Arrifin

PENANG, April 15 (Bernama) -- Efforts by the government to improve river cleanliness through the "Love Our Rivers" campaign, launched some 13 years ago, seems like pouring salt into the sea, especially when water quality in Sungai Juru here is concerned.

Undoubtedly without any guilty conscience, some people have no heed for the campaign and continue to regard rivers as their garbage bins by dumping all sorts of waste, including factory waste containing toxic, into them.

As a result, the 7.95 kilometre Sungai Juru continue to top the list of the most polluted rivers in the country and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the dirtiest in South East Asia.

According to WHO, water in the river can kill not only whatever living things in it, but also human beings because of its high toxic content even after boiling it.

It is so much different from 20 years ago when the river was known for projects like fish and cockle rearing in cages and also a landing place for fishermen.

The serious contamination of the river water not only affects income of fishermen in the area, but also deprives Penang of a water source which include for irrigation purpose.

The Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), has on numerous occasions issued statements on pollution at Sungai Juru and conducts research to determine the source for the contamination in the river.

A fisherman, Ahmad Din, 50, said he could depend on the river to earn a living by getting about RM50 a day catching prawns in the river some 20 years ago.

"Now, not only there is no fish, even the grass cannot grow along the river," he added.

Ahmad said the villagers had lodged complaints to various quarters but no action had been taken.

The Penang state government, however, denied that it had not taken any action to address the problem but said it was hampered because the villagers did not want to cooperate in the river campaign.

State Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Committee Chairman Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said Sungai Juru was full of garbage despite work being carried out everyday to clean the river.

He blamed it on the attitude of the villagers for dumping their domestic waste into the river.

The state government, he said, had taken proactive measures, including the possibility of relocating the riverine residents and also to monitor development in the area.

He said a survey was being carried out by a special committee to determine the number of squatter houses and illegal factories along the river.

He said any industrial premises found to have contributed to contamination of the river water would be asked to move to other places.

Azhar said the state government had also requested a special allocation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for long term development programmes to rehabilitate water in the river.

He added plans were also made to deepen the river to ensure swift flow of the water to the sea.


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