NST: Sungai Kabul pollution still persists but is not harmful

KUALA LUMPUR: Authorities say the pollution at Sungai Kabul in Kampung Bukit Batu, Beranang, which was reported on Saturday, still persists but at a smaller scale and is not harmful.

The foamy, odourless effluence found in the river is believed to be from nearby factories.

Authorities have issued a stern warning to stop any further discharge into the river, pending a full investigation by the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas), Department of Environment (DoE) and the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKJ).

Luas has confirmed that the pollution has not disrupted operations at any of the water treatment plants in Semenyih, Nilai and Labohan Dagang or caused any water cuts in Selangor.

A visit by the New Straits Times yesterday found that this was a recurrent problem, and residents nearby have had to put up with more severe pollution, including odour pollution.

A resident staying nearby, Mustafa Mahmud, 56, said this was not the first time they have had to put up with river pollution.

He said this problem has been persistent for years, because the area is surrounded by many factories that he claimed were not properly regulated.

"This is nothing compared to the pollution we saw here early this year. In January, it was worse. We could smell the odour from the river right from our house," he said.

Another resident, Abdul Hashim Hassan, 61, blamed poor enforcement by authorities as one of the reasons for the frequent pollution of Sungai Kabul.

The retiree claimed industrial waste from the nearby factories had caused the frequent pollution.

"This is not an isolated case, especially in Selangor, because time and again we experience water cuts, caused by shutting down of treatment plants.

"Fortunately, this is an 'anak sungai' so the impact is not so bad," he said, adding that this was the fourth case of pollution this year.

Hashim also raised concerns on why there were laws against causing pollution but no one was yet to be publicly charged, whenever there was any case of river pollution.

"I feel that these factories don't care about what is released into nature or its harmful effects to those around. What's the point of having strict laws to curb river pollution, when enforcement and prosecution is hardly seen?"

Meanwhile, Luas rapid reaction squad engineer Muhammad Hanif Maarof said a sample of the river water has been sent to the Chemistry Department for testing and the results may take up to two weeks to come out.

He said Luas carries out inspections at various riverbanks in Selangor at least three times daily, to ensure there were no cases of severe pollution.

"If the squad finds any anomaly in the river, it will be reported to the headquarters and investigated immediately.

"Luas has limitations, we do not have the power to simply enter any factory we suspect and check or take samples. We are only able to act when pollution has already struck and seek help from other agencies such as the local council, DoE and so on," he said.

Hanif also confirmed that the recent pollution in Sungai Kabul was gradually improving and no water treatment plants had been disrupted.

"Authorities have also taken samples from the river and from the suspected factories again, as part of their ongoing monitoring process," he said.

The latest river pollution is being investigated under Section 79(1) of the Luas Enactment 1999 which carries a fine of between RM200,000 and maximum of RM1 million and mandatory jail not less than three years upon convicted.

Meanwhile, Selangor executive councillor for environment Hee Loy Sian, who also visited the site yesterday, said Luas had opened an investigation paper against a factory suspected to have released foamy water and white substances into Sungai Kabul.

He said the investigating team had found some substances at two factory premises, manufacturing construction materials and garden equipment at the Mahkota Industrial area here, which matched the same pollution detected in Sungai Kabul.

He had said a multi-agency probe was initiated after the Luas squad detected the foamy water and white substances at 11.30am on Saturday, during routine checks in the Sungai Langat basin.

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