PETALING JAYA: The federal government has been urged to intervene to prevent Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor from taking action that can disrupt water supply to Penang.
The Penang Water Supply Corporation yesterday said the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) will be affected by the water tiff between Kedah and Penang if not resolved.
“Sanusi has no right to demand payment from Penang for raw water used by the state,” Penang Water Authority Holdings Bhd and the corporation’s chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said.
“If he had such a right, he would have taken the island state to court,” he added.
He pointed out that Penang had never questioned the right of Kedah to extract water from Sungai Muda, adding that the situation took a turn for the worse recently when Sanusi announced infrastructure projects that would limit the ability of Penang to extract raw water from Sungai Muda.
Jaseni called on the federal government to protect the right of 1.77 million residents of Penang to clean drinking water.
“Sanusi had announced plans in 2020 to mine rare earth elements (REE) at the Ulu Muda forest reserve, which is a water catchment area for Sungai Muda.
“The Penang Water Supply Corporation has made its stand very clear. The Kedah state government should not exploit the forest reserve for quick gains.”
Jaseni said Sungai Muda must be protected at all cost because it is the only source of raw water for the NCER, which includes Perlis, Kedah and Penang.
He added the NCER contributed RM147.8 billion in 2019 to the gross domestic product (GDP).
“To protect the Ulu Muda forest reserve Sanusi has demanded RM100 million a year from Penang. He has put royalty from logging and REE ahead of the welfare of the 4.2 million people living in the NCER.”
Jaseni said the contributions to GDP and estimated taxes were RM6.2 billion and RM0.7 billion from Perlis, RM46.9 billion and RM5.2 billion from Kedah, and RM94.7 billion and RM10.5 billion from Penang.
In taxes alone, the federal government received RM16.4 billion, with Penang contributing the highest amount, he added.