KOTA ISKANDAR - The government of Johor state in Malaysia decided on Wednesday (Nov 1) to shut down the fertiliser factory and poultry farm allegedly responsible for ammonia pollution in the Johor River last Friday.
According to national news agency Bernama, the Johor Public Works and Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the decision was made at the weekly meeting of the state executive council.
He said the state government was deeply concerned by the pollution issue, even though the factory operator had recently applied to change the conditions for which the land can been used.
He also said that the meeting decided to use the Water Supply Enactment 2014 to take legal action against the factory operator by imposing a fine.
"We will refer to the state legal officer to determine the quantum of the fine or summons," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Last Friday, ammonia pollution in the Johor River forced three water treatment plants to shut down, leaving almost two million people in the Johor Bahru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi districts without piped water supply for a day.
Johor has also instructed its veterinary services department to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure they adhere to environmental regulations.
"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor (Johor river)," said State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat on Wednesday, according to the New Strait Times.
He said measures must be taken to ensure that farm operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.
According to Johor veterinary services department director Dr Aida Muhid, there are nearly 800 licensed livestock farms in the state .
"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply ... farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.
She said when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997.