Duty and responsibility of states to preserve quality of water

The potential damage to the environment from rare earth mining and its health impact cannot be measured merely in dollars and cents

Rare earth ore compared to a US nickel - Photograph: Wikipedia

The Association for Community and Dialogue is appalled by Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s statement that the Kedah government’s decision not to conduct any rare earth mining at water catchment areas in the state was a big sacrifice and his suggestion that the Penang government compensate for it.

He said this in response to Tanjong MP Chow Kon Yeow’s question in the Dewan Rakyat on the ministry’s measures to preserve and prevent any pollution in the water catchment areas in the Ulu Muda forest reserve.

The environment and water minister seems to be political and even ignorant about the impact of rare earth mining in water catchment areas and its impact on water to states like Penang and Kedah.

The potential damage to the environment and its resulting health impact on people cannot be measured merely in dollars and cents.

There is no such thing as sacrifice on the part of the Kedah government, but there is a duty and responsibility between states to preserve the substance and quality of water used for the common good of people.

Research has shown that half a century of rare earth mining and processing has severely damaged surface vegetation, caused soil erosion, pollution and acidification, and reduced or even eliminated food crop output.

It affects the environment by inducing loss of biodiversity, contamination of surface water and leakage of chemicals from mining sites that could result in detrimental effects on the health of the population.

Furthermore, such mining whether it happens in water catchment areas or elsewhere in Kedah would basically violate sustainable development goal number 15 that Malaysia is part of, which is to protect and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

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We would like to remind the environment minister that all this protection is not a sacrifice or can be compensated with money. It seems that Tuan Ibrahim lacks depth of wisdom on the environment.

Source: The Sun Daily

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