Army and cops to guard water catchment areas in Johor

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor will rope in the army and police to prevent unscrupulous parties from drawing water illegally from water catchment areas.

The operations would also involve SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd and District Land Offices, said state Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) would also monitor and co-ordinate the anti-water theft operation.

"We will take stern action against those found drawing water illegally from the water catchment areas including charging them for trespassing on state-owned land," Hasni told reporters during the state assembly break.

He said the action was necessary as water levels at rivers in Kota Tinggi and Mersing - which supplied raw water to dams in the two districts - had reached critical levels because of El Nino.

Hasni said the state authorities had issued notices to large scale vegetable farmers with farms close to the water catchment areas to look at other water resources instead of using river water.

"We are also closely watching whether animal breeders and factories draw water illegally from the water catchment areas and rivers," he added.

Hasni said Johor had requested the Meteorological Department to conduct 40 cloud seeding operations in the Kota Tinggi and Mersing districts