By Ashwin Kumar
THE nature-rich state of Selangor is set to become one of the major players in green technology in Malaysia through its continued commitment towards developing a sustainable future.
The state government is at the forefront of projects involving the preservation and conservation of its natural resources.
Selangor Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation, and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said the administration’s commitment is evident from the number of funds allocated to implement various environmental protection programmes.
“I have always set my target that Selangor must lead in all aspects of environmental issues, such as greening the state, saving biodiversity, as well as changing the public’s mindset and educating them. Fortunately, we have already moved in the right direction but more needs to be done in order to become a green state.
“Based on a study we carried out, awareness about single-use plastic bags is high and 80 per cent of the people in the state have agreed to have the campaign continued,” he said in a recent interview with Selangor Journal.
Hee revealed that the state government is launching a new green technology blueprint, which aims to play a significant role in carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration refers to the long-term removal of carbon dioxide to slow down the accumulation of greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.
“Let us hope that our financial status permits the launch of the blueprint,” he said.
Phasing out plastics
Beginning Jan 1, business premises in Selangor are required to register with their respective local authorities if they intend to collect 20 sen from their customers for the plastic bags they provide.
Hee said a certificate would then be issued to them for display, as part of the awareness campaign.
Businesses are also required to declare and surrender to the local councils the monies they collected.
“The money collected has to be declared and surrendered to the local authorities. Sixty per cent will go to the state and the remaining 40 per cent to the local authorities’ trust fund (Tabung Amanah). The money would be used for environment-related causes.”
Hee pointed out that the larger share for the state would offset the anticipated poor collection from more remote municipalities and district councils.
“This would enable us to carry out environment-related programmes throughout Selangor. Our aim is to ensure that we phase out plastic entirely by 2025. We do not want the collection to increase. We want it to decrease.”
Meanwhile, Hee revealed that many food and beverage outlet operators no longer provide plastic straws to their customers.
He said the state government will not impose stricter monitoring of F&B outlets as there has been great cooperation from the outlets on this matter.
A fine balance
Hee said the state government plans to form a Selangor Green Council (SGC) by year end to raise awareness on its green initiatives and collaborate with various institutions.
He said the council will be represented by professionals and environmentalists.
“Our focus is to enhance the quality of life through green and smart city planning and execution while increasing public awareness in tackling environmental issues.
“The state government is aware that there is no alternative to balanced development. Our economy needs to develop along with the conservation of our environment and planet.
“A well-kept balance between economic growth and ecological protection is our goal towards a green state for all. We, therefore, must invest wisely and effectively in the new digital world to ensure our state is well equipped to increase liveability and improve resilience,”
Rural folk can recycle too
In an effort to improve recycling practices, especially in rural areas, the state government is looking into initiating a pilot project to bring recycling centres to villages.
“A few villages or kampungs will be shortlisted by the state government and we will embark on recycling initiatives in these areas.
“With proper recycling centres in their villages, the people can also earn money by turning recyclables into sellable items,” he said.
After the pilot project takes off, the state government will go through a quick procurement process, if needed, and then continue with the implementation of the initiative in other areas in the state.
This will benefit the 522 villages in the state, out of which 19 are fishing villages and 74, Orang Asli villages.
Safeguarding our water
Following the success of “Ops Sumber Air”, where the state government conducted 24-hour monitoring of the areas near the river basin during the Chinese New Year season this year, Hee said the operation has been extended to function on a daily basis.
He said the state administration has requested Indah Water Konsortium to conduct continuous monitoring by increasing its manpower from 200 officers to 300.
“In a bid to combat water pollution, we have increased manpower and operations will be further intensified for the upcoming festive seasons.
“We are taking this approach to avoid river pollution that could cause existing water treatment plants to cease operations and cause water supply disruption,” he said.
The state’s 2020 Budget saw an allocation of RM1.5 million for green volunteerism, RM500,000 for river conservation efforts, RM500,000 to plant 5,000 trees statewide, RM600,000 to set up recycling centres at all local councils, and RM6.85 million for solid waste management. A further RM40 million has been set aside for the Taman Rakyat Selangor project, and allocations to fix solar panels at all local councils.