PENANG,: The Penang State Government is seeking intervention from the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) to kick-off inter-state talks regarding the proposed Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme (SPRWTS).
Penang Chief Minister Y.A.B. Tuan Lim Guan Eng said that there was a “clear gap” between Perak’s intent and Penang’s need with regard to inter-state water cooperation.
“As a water-stressed state, Penang’s primary challenge is raw water sufficiency. In a letter dated on 16th December 2013, the Office of the State Secretary of Perak has stated that Perak is only interested in selling treated water to Penang, and not raw water,” he said.
“On 12th June 2014, Penang State Secretary Dato’ Farizan bin Darus replied in a letter to his Perak counterpart that Penang prefers to source raw water from Sungai Perak. What we really need is raw water. Buying treated water from Perak is likely to have a detrimental effect on Penang’s water tariffs,” he added.
Penang’s average water tariff for the first 35,000 liters of domestic consumption per month will be RM0.32 per 1,000 litres, based on a proposal that has been submitted for approval by the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) on 30th April 2014. In comparison, Perak’s average tariff for this band of domestic consumption is RM0.73 per 1,000 liters.
Y.A.B. Lim, who also serves as Chairman of PBA Holdings Bhd (PBAHB), pointed out that Perak’s domestic tariff was 2.3 times higher than Penang’s for the first 35,000 litres per month. “This is an indication that it would be impractical for Penang to buy treated water from Perak as the cost is likely to be too high,” he said.
“I want to be clear that Penang is willing to talk to Perak at any time on the SPRWTS with regard to raw water, as suggested by KeTTHA. However, it is obvious that Penang and Perak are not on the same wavelength regarding inter-state water cooperation. As such, it is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry that holds the water portfolio to step in,” he added.
In a letter to Y.A.B. Lim dated 29th May 2014, KeTTHA Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili stated that his ministry appreciated and took note to the initiatives implemented by the Penang Chief Minister to ensure water sufficiency for the industries and people of Penang.
However, Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus said, the State Government of Penang needed to hold discussions and reach an agreement with the State Government of Perak before the SPRWTS could be implemented. The Minister pointed out that water resources were under the jurisdiction of state governments. If an agreement is reached between Penang and Perak, he added, KeTTHA would then prioritise further action on the SPRWTS.
In 2009, PBAHB’s wholly owned subsidiary, Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP) commissioned a “Masterplan Study for Potable Water in Penang until 2050”. The results of the study showed that Sungai Muda, Penang’s primary raw water resource, would only be able to meet Penang’s needs until Year 2020.
As such, the Penang State Government and PBAPP proposed the SPRWTS to channel raw water from Sungai Perak to Penang. The SPRWTS allows Penang to tap a second raw water resource, which is relatively under-utilised, to avoid water rationing during prolonged dry seasons and ensure water sufficiency until 2050. The SPRWTS will also benefit Perak in sustaining continuous good water supply, particularly in the Kinta Valley.
In 2011, Penang and PBAPP migrated to the National Water Services Re-structuring Initiative (NWSRI) by signing agreements with the Federal Government. One of the key conditions for the migration was that the Federal Government agreed to be legally responsible for the implementation of raw water resource projects for the benefit of Penang.
In June 2012, KeTTHA reportedly approved the SPRWTS. In August 2012, the scheme was endorsed by SPAN. Since September 2013, Penang has been requesting for KeTTHA to chair coordination meetings between Penang and Perak.
Y.A.B. Lim reminded the Federal Government that it was time to fulfill its obligations. “We would like to take this opportunity to remind the Federal Government that it is time to fulfill its legal and moral obligations to the people, businesses and industries in Penang. This is in accordance to the provisions of agreements signed by Penang and PBAPP with the Federal Government to facilitate the National Water Services Re-structuring Initiative in 2011,” he said.
“It has been said that Selangor had to impose water rationing earlier this year due to the delay in the implementation of the Ulu Langat 2 project. In fact, the Federal Government was eager to implement the Ulu Langat 2 project even when it faced strong public opposition in Selangor.
“And yet, here in Penang, when we want the SPRWTS to avoid rationing in the future, the Federal Government seems to be unusually reluctant to move on this project,” he said.
“The Penang State Government and PBAPP are ready to invest in the requisite infrastructure in Penang to support the SPRWTS because we are concerned about water sufficiency after Year 2020. We are counting on the Federal Government to make good its promise to look after Penang’s water interests,” he said.
Contact: Syarifah Nasywa Syed Feisal Barakba
Corporate Communications Unit Tel: 04 2013 231 | Email : [email protected]