The Padi field is now a dump
BUKIT MERTAJAM: Yet another padi field has “fallen by the wayside,” further eroding the country’s ability to produce rice to feed its people.
This time, Department of Environment (DOE) investigators found that the owner had allowed manufacturers and contractors to illegally dump suspected construction debris and industrial waste on the Permatang Pauh land here.
The field was found filled with giant bags of this waste, possibly intended to be used to fill the marshy ground of the padi field in order to convert its use.
Illegal destruction of padi fields occurs occasionally in all padi planting areas in Malaysia, driven by low yields from rice production and a desire to use the land for something more profitable, such as real estate development .
The authorities have put in place numerous restrictions to prevent the conversion of rice fields and preserve the country’s rice production.
Penang DOE Director Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said 30 such bags – large enough to hold more than 1,000 cubic meters in volume – had been found so far, next to an open pit burning site. open.
It was an open burning complaint that first led DOE investigators to the illegal dump.
“On February 15, we received a complaint about an open burning behind the Bukit Merah village housing estate.
“While checking the open burning, our investigators found the illegal landfill covered in nearby solid waste, construction waste and suspected industrial waste,” she said.
The site measures approximately 8,000 m².
“We found that landowners and tenants had reclaimed the land using the waste for building construction without any approval from the local authority.
“After cordoning off the area, samples of the waste at the landfill were taken and sent to the chemistry department for analysis,” she added.
The DOE, Sharifah Zakiah said, then checked a number of premises in Penang and identified the waste generators.
“We have identified the parties involved, namely the property owners, tenants and several other people who may be involved in this incident.
“All identified parties have been called to take statements to assist in the investigation,” she said, adding that the matter had not been made public earlier to allow for a full investigation first. .
Sharifah Zakiah said that following a series of discussions with those involved, the parties generating the waste as well as the tenant had agreed to bear the cost of cleanup and disposal, as well as all other related costs.
“All waste that has been contaminated with scheduled waste will be sent to Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd Scheduled Waste Landfill for disposal.
“As for ordinary solid waste, landowners have been instructed to dispose of it at Sungai Burung Solid Waste Landfill.”
She added that the Seberang Prai city council, as the local authority, had been informed of the illegal dumping by a letter dated February 23.
Sharifah Zakiah said all the locals agreed to appoint Kualiti Alam to handle the cleanup and disposal works.
She said the clean-up work, at an estimated initial cost of RM500,000, started on Wednesday and is expected to be completed within a week.
“However, the cost will increase if more waste is found underneath during excavation,” she added.
The matter is being investigated under Section 34(B) of the Environment Quality Act, which is punishable by a maximum fine of RM500,000 and a five years’ imprisonment, as well as under Section 24(B) of the same Act, which is punishable by a maximum fine of RM100,000 and five years’ imprisonment if convicted.