A lot of people left caution to the wind while criticising Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) over its failure to supply water for three days last week. Its defence?
It had to clean the Hulu Langat Water Treatment Plant. Why? Because the intake water at the dam was so polluted. And yet, the people of Selangor maintained their ruthlessness nonetheless.
Even Barisan Nasional Selangor chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar did nothing to alleviate the condition – instead, he accused the state government of giving 20 cubic metres of water free when there was no water to give.
In this continued confluence of grey noise, the one question that should have been focused on was missing?
To paraphrase Toy Story, who poisoned the water hole?
In its press statement, Syabas mentions that there were toxins in the water that the treatment plant could no longer handle. Well, who dumped it into the river?
And also, isn’t poisoning the water supply a terrorist act? Are any of our multiple authorities calling for an investigation? Are any of the nature non-government organisations or even the state government itself calling on the public and industries to stop dumping waste in the river?
Meanwhile on the water company’s side, the Hulu Langat Plant is in dire need of upgrading. If I am not mistaken, there have been allocations to upgrade the water treatment plants by the Selangor state since 2010.
I recall this because there had actually been a site visit for journalists along with a PKR assemblyman to a water treatment plant to discuss such upgrading works back then, as part of the effort to meet the demands for water in Selangor.
At the same time, more efforts need to be taken to ensure the rivers which supply our water are not poisoned by both residential and industrial waste. One such measure would be the Pantai Water Treatment Plant 2 which is under construction and supposed to service the Klang River.
However, what we need are people monitoring the river and reporting to the authorities with regards to pollution. In other words, we need an Erin Brockovich – someone who helps interact with riverside communities and allow them to file lawsuits against those polluting the rivers and making them sick.
Only in our case, nobody actually got sick, just uncomfortable for three days without enough water – Syabas did in fact send water trucks to assist in the situation.
I will not say water should not be politicised, as mentioned by Selangor state executive councillor Elizabeth Wong, because PKR politicised water ages ago. Thus, no double standards, please.
However, there is a need for some comeuppance against the persons or companies who caused this hassle either in the form of a class action lawsuit or even a jail sentence.
In this sense, there is a need for both Syabas and the state to work together and find out who is responsible for dumping poisonous waste into the water cache. As of yet, neither has issued any statement towards this matter of national security.
At the same time, where is the public’s environmental sentiment when it comes to maintaining rivers?
Surely there are NGOs out there who care for the environmental issues such as that with Lynas, the gold pollution case, and even the bauxite case, who are equally concerned with this issue of pollution?
It is a deafening silence when it comes to these people who were so adamant about the environment elsewhere.
After all, those cases were brought up by the same political parties which runs the government of Selangor, who criticised the federal government of not doing enough. Now, all three – the water suppliers and both state and federal government – must take ownership of this problem.
Hafidz Baharom@The Heat Malaysia Online