Vil­lagers have long com­plained about smoke haz­ard but in vain

New Straits Times - - News | Story Of The Day -

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.

PIC BY SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

The il­le­gal fac­tory op­er­at­ing on agri­cul­tural land in Sun­gai Lembu, Bukit Mer­ta­jam.

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