By : SHALINA R
RIVERS are central to many environmental issues. They provide habitat, nourishment, means of transportation and many great cities around the world have sprouted alongside rivers, big and small.
Replying to a question from Datuk Liew Teck Chan (SAPP-Likas) at the State Assembly, Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment told the Dewan that the State Government has always been aware of the immense importance of rivers, and has taken many steps to preserve them.
He said, “Through various departments and agencies, the government, has long tried and will continue to try various ways for the care and preservation of the rivers in Sabah. They include carrying out specific studies to identify sources of pollution and to deal with it through the implementation of various specific action plans.”
He added, “In terms of enforcement, the government, through the Department of Environment (DOE) has enforced the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and the regulations thereunder to ensure that factories such as palm oil mills, rubber factories and other waste-producing establishments can only be set up with approved EIA report, and, once established, are strictly monitored to ensure compliance with the conditions that have been set.”
Masidi said there have been many cases of non-compliance. "As of October this year, a total of 219 compounds have been issued for environmental violations," he told the Dewan.
The water quality of 36 river basins in Sabah is being monitored by 115 monitoring stations. This is to ensure that if any water contamination occurs, it will not endanger the public and tourists that are visiting Sabah.
This monitoring program is carried out by Alam Sekitar Malaysia (ASMA) Sdn Bhd. Major river basins are under constant surveillance. Amongst them are the Kinabatangan, Segama, Muanad, Kalumpang, Padas, Moyog and Inanam River.
Masidi also added that various awareness and environmental education programs are carried out to ensure that people understand and take responsibility for the care and cleanliness of their rivers.
He mentioned activities like the Satu Negeri Satu Sungai Program, Cintai Sungai Program, Environmental Awareness Camp as some of the steps taken principally to educate the public about river preservation, and to inspire them to love their rivers. (Insight Sabah)