Ministry proposes RM10mil fine,15 years’ jail for water polluters

Natural resources, environment and climate change minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said fines need to be increased to fight rampant water pollution. (LUAS pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is considering increasing the punishment against those who pollute the nation’s waterways through amendments to the Water Services Industry Act 2006.

Natural resources, environment and climate change minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the ministry is in the process of amending the Act to combat rampant water pollution.

“The amendments involve increasing the (maximum) fine from RM100,000 to RM10 million and extending jail time from a maximum of one year to 15 years, or both,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was responding to Che Alias Hamid (PN-Kemaman), who asked about the ministry’s commitment to amend the Act and impose a higher penalty against those who contaminate the nation’s water supply.

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Nik Nazmi added that a new list of offences was also being proposed, including “any act that causes or is likely to cause the closure of water supply systems or disruption in supply to consumers”.

He said the proposed amendments also included enabling licence holders and consumers to claim compensation from perpetrators for the costs incurred to recover the water supply system.

“This involves Sections 121 and 122 of the Act,” he said, adding that the matter is under review by the ministry before being referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for approval.

He said the amendments to the Act were expected to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat in June.

He also said the government would proceed with amendments to the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to combat pollution, irrespective of location and jurisdiction of ministries.

The Environmental Quality (Amendment) 2022 Bill, aimed at increasing the penalty to not more than RM10 million for offences such as placing or disposing scheduled waste other than at the prescribed premises, was tabled for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 3.

Based on the bill to amend the Act, any individual found guilty of committing the offence could be jailed up to five years and fined not less than RM100,000.

The bill was tabled by then environment and water minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who said that the second reading would be at the same parliamentary sitting. However, Parliament was dissolved a week later.

Additionally, Nik Nazmi said the ministry would also look into ensuring sufficient reserve margins.

“We need a minimum of 15%, otherwise any pollution would lead to a disruption in supply,” he said.

He said the resilience of the nation’s water supply against disruption due to pollution could be improved if water was not wasted or lost due to leaky pipes or theft.

“In Malaysia, our non-revenue water (NRW) is around 20% or above. Developed countries target 10% NRW to ensure water pollution does not cause disruption to consumers.”

'Ainin Wan Salleh - 

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