The Royal patron of the Johor National Parks said immediate steps are necessary to highlight to the public about the dangers of river pollution
HH Tunku Temenggong Johor, Tunku Idris Iskandar Ibni Sultan Ibrahim warns the risks of Johor rivers bearing the brunt of toxic dumps for both domestic and international waste if the public are not taught to love and protect the river.
“In conjunction with World Water Day today (22nd March), I would like to draw attention to the serious implications of polluting our rivers. There are many lessons to be learnt in the aftermath of the Sungai Kim Kim toxic fumes disaster in Pasir Gudang,” he said.
Citing the recent crisis earlier in March where about 3,000 people have been hospitalised after inhaling toxic fumes emitted from chemical waste dumped into the river which then forced the closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, Johor, Tunku Idris said the dumping of the toxic waste has destroyed Sungai Kim Kim together with its marine life and its potential as a fresh water source.
“Almost all 16 major rivers in Johor had at one time or another been affected by pollution. The Pasir Gudang crisis had intensified the need for new initiatives to boost public education and awareness about protecting our rivers and fresh water sources”, he added.
Public-private partnerships should identify new approaches and innovative ideas on how to revive dirty rivers and save towns from loss of liveability while adding that they must be proactive instead of being merely reactive each time when disaster happens.
“I call on all concerned to renew efforts to clean up our rivers. I especially urge schools to actively engage in “Love Our Rivers” programmes to remind our youth that clean water is key to our survival,” he said.
Tunku Idris warned that if the degradation of Johor’s rivers continues, the state of Johor risks facing severe shortage of drinking water, as well as water for other domestic and industrial purposes.