DANIDA Helps River Management Project in Malaysia

Pilot projects are to be carried out on having integrated river basin management systems for Sungai Kedah and Sungai Selangor. The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) will help with the project.
The projects would give input on which aspects of having a sole authority were legally feasible, since water and land resources come under the jurisdiction of individual states. This will be done along with the drafting of laws to have a single authority in charge of rivers and their surrounding activities.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said that this would be a big constitutional issue. He did not discount the possibility that the constitution may have to be amended in order to have a master authority oversee all aspects of river management.
“Maybe, it’s possible. We may have to if we want clean rivers and water supply for the future,” he said.
The pilot projects on Sungai Kedah and Sungai Selangor, both rivers in the range of A3 and A4 (A5 is the worst grade), will begin once the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) completes the project framework.
Azmi said the DID had to complete the standard operating procedures and plan the scope of the projects before they could start. At the same time, the ministry was also looking at laws to create an agency that would oversee development and land-use plans involving rivers.
If a river cuts through more than one state, the local authorities and state governments concerned would have to seek the agency’s approval for any development activity affecting the river.
Azmi said Malaysia was eager to implement this management approach, which is being used in Japan.
“The cabinet agreed to an integrated management system for river basins in 2003, and recently reiterated its support this year.”
According to Azmi Malaysia had 184 river basins and 50 per cent of the country’s rivers were still good (class A1 to A2).

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