Possible RM10mil fine,15 years jail for water polluters in June’s Parliament session

KUALA LUMPUR: Those who pollute and contaminate water sources could see heavier punishments as new amendments to existing laws will be tabled in Parliament by June.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said amendments to the Water Industry Act 2006 will raise the maximum fine from RM100,000 to RM10mil, and a prison term of up to 15 years from the initial one-year term.

Nik Nazmi also said water users will be able to claim damage costs from polluters whose acts risk or cause e closure or disruption of the water supply system.

“The amendments are being reviewed and scrutinised before being taken up for approval by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“The amendments are expected to be tabled in the Parliament sitting in June this year,” said Nik Nazmi during the Minister Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (Feb 16) morning.

At the same time, Nik Nazmi said the ministry is working on amendments on the Environment Quality Act 1974.

According to Nik Nazmi, amendments on the EQA will be carried out in two phases.

He said that Phase One will involve amendments on increasing compounds and it is set to be tabled in Parliament in the fourth quarter of this year.

Nik Nazmi said Phase Two which will strengthen the EQA as a whole is currently being scrutinised by legal and environmental experts.

“Phase Two amendments need to involve engagement sessions with stakeholders such as government agencies, NGOs, industry players and those involved in development projects,” added Nik Nazmi.

Nik Nazmi also said the ministry is currently implementing projects on educating the public on river sustainability.

He said concerted effort by all parties is needed to effectively address the issue of water pollution.

“This includes the state government’s role, as water supplies fall under the purview of state governments.

“It is also important for the state government to control development near water sources by having more effective inspections and enforcement.

“Local authorities also play a role in preventing water pollution which is caused by restaurants, slaughter houses and car wash centres among others,” added Nik Nazmi.

Water cuts caused by pollution have been a perennial problem affecting various localities across the nation over the recent years.