April 23, 2008 By CLARA CHOOI
IPOH: The Perak Government has set up a special committee to come up with remedial steps to solve the age-old dust problem plaguing residents in Tasek here, allegedly caused by a nearby cement factory.
State Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan said that the committee would comprise representatives from all parties - the company, residents, the Perak Department of Environment (DOE), Health Department, the Consumers Association and two state assemblymen (Kepayang assemblyman Loke Chee Yan and Bercham assemblyman Sum Cheok Leng).
"This is the first time such a committee is being set up, despite the fact that the problem has been going on for years," he told reporters Wednesday after an hour-long dialogue with the various parties at the factory in the Tasek Industrial Park here.
Sivanesan said that the committee would come up with possible preventive measures to be taken in order to formulate a win-win action plan.
"We do not want to put these factory employees out of a job so closing it down would be the last option. We will not do it.
"After all, this is a RM1bil investment and the factory has been here since 1964," he said.
During the dialogue earlier, Sivanesan said the company's representatives had claimed that they had already set up three monitoring centres at Taman Kinta, Taman Wah Keong and Taman Permai to check the level of dust emissions at ground level.
"The permissible level of dust emission is 100 micrograms while according to tests, the level here is up to 300 micrograms," he said, adding that the dust contained components such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, chromium, and dioxin.
"The company also claims that it had spent RM3.89mil on maintenance works and have two vacuum road sweepers out on regular duties on the road," he said.
Sivanesan added that the company informed him that it had always been in full compliance with the laws under the DOE.
The company, he said, also claimed that it was not liable for the pollution, which could have resulted from other surrounding factories.
"On the part of the DOE, its officers said they conduct periodic checks and had last year compounded the company RM2,000 under the Environmental Quality Act 1971 for failure to comply," he said.
"The DOE had also received six similar complaints from residents between April 3 and 16 this year," he said.
Sivanesan said that he would chair the committee's first meeting at 10am at the State Secretariat building here next Tuesday.