post by Susanne Chi
RM7m to put love back into rivers
JOHOR BARU: The failed Love Our Rivers campaign has been re-branded as a programme to preserve the riverine environment.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the ministry would spend RM7 million on the campaign to be launched in June by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
"The cabinet has agreed to give state assemblymen and MPs from ‘black areas’ a RM10,000 allocation under the campaign.
"They will use the money to run environmental awareness programmes to change the mindset of people living around polluted rivers."
Azmi was speaking after receiving RM100,000 for Johor flood victims from the Surveyors’ Board of Peninsular Malaysia.
"The Love Our Rivers campaign has been misconstrued by people as just landscaping river banks.
"They didn’t realise that the campaign was also aimed at keeping rivers free from pollution and rubbish."
Asked if the new campaign would suffer the same fate as the earlier campaign, he said: "I don’t think so. I think the people are now ready to accept their responsibility."
The Love Our Rivers campaign was launched in 1993.
Azmi said the failure of the campaign was evident in the increase in river pollution with 17 rivers having water that was unsafe for humans to even touch.
"It will take RM2 billion to rehabilitate each of these polluted rivers."
Asked if the ministry had identified the major polluter of rivers, Azmi said improperly treated sewage effluent was to blame for the pollution.
"Studies have shown that 91 per cent of sewage treatment plants in the country are run inefficiently."