KUALA LUMPUR: The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climatic Change Ministry has confirmed that it will amend the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to give it more bite.
Its deputy minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (pix) said this was in light of the chemical contamination at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor earlier this month that has forced over 4,000 people to seek treatment since March 7.
“Yes, we intend to amend the act,” she told the Dewan Rakyat here today.
“At the same time, we are always carrying out enforcements to ensure that we are able to reduce environmental pollution in a more effective measure.”
Isnaraissah was responding to a supplementary question from Larry Sng Wei Shien (Julau-PH) on whether the government plans to amend the Environmental Quality Act to increase the punishment from the current maximum of RM500,000 fine and five years prison.
Sng had said such a move was necessary to mete out harsher punishments to offenders who disregard the law, after the chemical waste dumping incident in Pasir Gudang had also forced 111 schools to shut down.
On another question if there were any truth to claims that the hazardous chemical wastes from Sungai Kim Kim would be transferred to Negri Sembilan for disposal, Isnaraissah dismissed such move would take place.
Teo Kok Seong (PH-Rasah) said he was concerned by a supposed plan by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian to move the wastes from Johor to a waste management centre in Negri Sembilan.
Responding to this, Isnaraissah said: “I understand your concern. we already have a pollution case in Pasir Gudang, and we don’t intend to move the waste to Negri Sembilan.”
Johor Health, Environment, Co-operatives and Consumerism Committee chairman S. Veerapan had, on Monday, said he understood that the wastes would be transferred, but said the Johor Department of Environment has to submit a disposal and transportation plan first before making such move.