GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government is optimistic that it can resume talks with Perak on the raw water scheme based on the latest findings of a study commissioned by the environment and water ministry.
Zairil Khir Johari, Penang’s executive councillor in charge of infrastructure and transport, told FMT that Perak menteri besar Saarani Mohamad had previously opposed the Sungai Perak Raw Water Scheme (SPRWTS) based on feedback from technical agencies such as Lembaga Air Perak, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the irrigation and drainage department.
The agencies’ feedback indicated that Sungai Perak would not have enough raw water supply for both states.
“However, at the time, the Sungai Perak report commissioned by the environment and water ministry (Kasa) had not yet been finalised,” said Zairil.
“Based on the Kasa report, which has now been finalised, there is sufficient water for both Penang and Perak. Hence, Penang believes we can restart discussions based on the latest findings.”
Earlier today, Saarani said the state would not change its decision not to supply raw water to Penang, despite Perak now being jointly administered by both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan.
He was quoted by Harian Metro as saying that the decision to reject Penang’s proposed SPRWTS was not due to politics, but because Sungai Perak only had enough raw water supply for Perak’s domestic consumption.
Saarani previously also said that Perak could not agree to the raw water scheme as it would need the water supply from the river for its own use as it was working to develop its industries.
In March, the menteri besar apologised to the people of Penang after his administration decided against selling water to the northern state, maintaining that it was needed to secure Perak’s water supply.
Penang had proposed the raw water pipe from Sungai Perak back in 2009, but Putrajaya did not move forward with the plan. Major water infrastructure is typically under federal purview.
Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow recently reiterated his call for Putrajaya to expedite the raw water scheme after the state’s water supply was interrupted due to the flooding in Baling, Kedah.