Heavier penalties for polluters

28 Mar 2019 / 20:15 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Polluters will soon be subject to heavier penalties under a new legislation that will be drawn up by Department of Environment (DoE).

The new legislation, to replace the Environmental Quality Act 1974 that has been considered too weak by various quarters, will provide for higher maximum fines and longer jail terms as well as introduce a minimum fine.

However, Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, who disclosed this when winding up the debate on the royal address at the Dewan Rakyat today, did not elaborate on the proposed Act nor explain why the ministry wanted a new legislation rather than amend the existing one.

Under the current legislation, anyone found guilty of polluting the environment is liable to a maximum fine of RM500,000 or be imprisoned for up to five years, or both.

There is also no minimum fine included currently.

This has led many politicians and environmentalists to demand that the Act be amended to give it more bite, claiming that the existing punishment was insufficient, in view of the damage caused by the toxic waste pollution at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

The chemical contamination at the river earlier this month forced over 4,000 people to seek treatment and over 100 schools to shut down.

Meanwhile, Isnaraissah assured teachers and students affected by the pollution that they would be compensated by Takaful Insurance.

She added that the suspects involved in dumping the chemical wastes might also be required to bear the cost of cleaning up Sungai Kim Kim, depending on the court’s decision.

email blast