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Monitoring without real-time readings of pollution levels a waste of time, says Malaysian environmental group.

The government's environmental quality monitoring programme (EQMP) must have real-time readings of pollution in rivers, sea and the air so early warnings can be issued, an environmental group said.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman said the government must completely overhaul the EQMP as it had failed to provide early warnings which may have averted the Johor pollution crises.

She said a proper EQMP and early warning system must be in place to prevent these kinds of environmental disasters.

'Of importance is to also enhance the capacity of the Department of Environment's enforcement officers both in terms of numbers and quality as well,' she said when asked to comment on the government's failed RM846 million EQMP.

She said the service provider should not have been left on its own to conduct the readings of pollution in rivers, sea and the air.

She said the DoE must check the EQMP and the service provider regularly to ensure the monitoring works are done effectively and in accordance with requirements.

'In fact money should only be paid when proper services are provided which are verified for accuracy,' she said.

She said DoE must have full access to the EQMP system including the stations and the maintenance schedule so that it can evaluate the performance and accuracy of the system.

As for the failure of the EQMP to issue early warnings in the most recent cases of pollution, Meenakshi said it was clear that the government needed to end the contract of the EQPM service provider.

She said the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC) must now take measures to recover whatever monies paid to the concessionaire.

'The ministry must seek compensation for their failure to act properly,' she said.

She urged the ministry to engage local communities around neighbourhoods to become the eyes and ears of the government.

'They can tip off the government on environmental violators who are carrying out dumping activities,' she said.

Recently, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin admitted that the EQMP had failed to raise the alarm on illegal dumping of toxic waste at Sungai Kim Kim.

She said the ministry is now reviewing the performance and efficiency of the system; the legal aspects, and renegotiating the terms of agreement, with the possibility of early termination of services.

The ministry has also reported the case to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC) last month.

The EQMP was awarded to a private company, Pakar Scieno TW Sdn Bhd, by the previous government at RM846 million back in 2017.

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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Date:Jul 27, 2019
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