Time to end federal-state tussle over water, says NGO
PETALING JAYA: An environmentalist has called for water supply to come under the purview of the National Security Council in the wake of the water crisis in the Klang Valley caused by river pollution.
K Kalithasan, river care manager for the Global Environment Centre, said he supported the call by Klang MP Charles Santiago for a single federal authority to regulate rivers.
Santiago had said rivers should be treated as a national security area with buffers of around 200 metres on both sides where possible, with police and the army securing the areas.
Kalithasan said there was currently a conflict between federal and state authorities over land and water matters. “Some states want development, and approve projects which may not be good for the environment.”
He said river pollution was a national security issue, as it affected the public, from accessing drinking water to hospital operations and dialysis centres.
“This affects life and we cannot continue like this. It is time for the security council to takeover water supply so we can override the interests of businesses and states. We need to look at the bigger picture.”
Andrew Sebastian, CEO of the Malaysian Ecotourism and Conservation Society, also backed Santiago’s call. He said the protection of vital assets such as rivers and water catchment areas, should not be politicised.
“A single federal agency to solely monitor, maintain and regulate water catchment areas, down to water supply, is sorely needed. Such an agency has to be given the teeth where law and enforcement is concerned. Everything has to be regulated from restaurants to consumers, we can’t allow restaurants to just pour cooking oil and dishwater down the drains.”