Villagers have long complained about smoke hazard but in vain
BUKIT MERTAJAM: As far as villagers of Sungai Lembu are concerned, the illegal carbon filter factory operating in their backyard is a longstanding problem with no solution in sight.
Sungai Lembu village head Tan Sing Lee, 58, said the 1,000-odd villagers had for years been complaining about the smoke from the factory to the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, but in vain.
He said the situation worsened every year-end, causing all sorts of health problems to villagers there.
Tan said the thick smoke would drift towards their direction, engulfing the village in “smog”.
He said the factory owner met him a few years ago, seeking leniency from the villagers to continue its operations.
“While we are not here to put sand into other people’s rice bowl, I have to think about the wellbeing of the 1,000-odd residents.
“I have been scolded by villagers, asking me if I had a problem with my nose that I could not smell the choking smoke,” he said at the village yesterday.
Checks by the New Straits Times showed the illegal carbon filter factory was not visible from the main Jalan Sungai Lembu trunk road.
The premises, a little smaller than a football field, was built about 400m from the main road, deep in the forested area.
Yesterday, the Malaysian AntiCorruption Commission (MACC) raided the factory, its office as well as the Licensing Department of the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP), both in Bandar Perda.
MACC officers were seen entering the council’s building at 10.30am and left three hours later with bags of documents.
A 70-year-old supervisor of the factory was detained for questioning.
The raid followed alleged inaction by the authorities despite numerous complaints.
Tan said the villagers had lodged many grievances with the council over the years.
“We are at our wit’s end and don’t know what else to do.
“We just hope this will mark an end to our nightmare,” he said, adding that it was not the villagers who had lodged a report on the matter to MACC.
The illegal factory operating on agricultural land in Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.