Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the amendment was currently in the review stage before being sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers.
He said it involved increasing the maximum fine from RM100,000 to RM10 million, while the prison sentence would be increased from one year to a maximum of 15 years.
“The amendment also involves the listing of new offences such as any act that causes or may cause the closure of the water supply system or disruption of water supply to users as well as releasing any sewage, objects or materials into any drain,” he said during the Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to a question from Che Alias Hamid (PN-Kemaman) who wished to know the ministry’s commitment to amend Act 655 in terms of imposing higher penalties and fines for water polluters.
Nik Nazmi said the amendment involving sections 121 and 122 of the Act would also allow water concessionaires and also users to reclaim the cost to restore the water supply system that was polluted by the party found guilty.
“At the same time, the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (Act 127) was also in the process of being amended before Parliament was dissolved (in October last year).
“We intend to proceed with the amendment as this involves any kind of pollution regardless of location or jurisdiction and involves amending the compound and penalty elements, as well as empowering the Act,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a press conference at the Parliament building lobby, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said the amendment to the law could strengthen efforts to combat polluters to ensure the sustainability of raw water supply sources in the states.
He said based on the experience in Selangor, where the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) Enactment 1999 was amended to raise the maximum fine for water polluter offences to RM1 million from RM500,000 in Nov 2022, only two incidents of water pollution were reported in Selangor compared to about eight in 2020.
“This action to increase (fines) in addition to enforcement done in the coastal areas and riverbanks have, to some extent, had a positive effect in Selangor.
“Legal actions and structural actions are not the only (preventive measures), I believe the ministry has proposed several educational processes through water saving campaigns, the World Water Day, ‘Sahabat Air’…these are all part of a continuous effort that should be strengthened over time,” he said.– BERNAMA