Cloud seeding may be carried out
Published on: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government is considering cloud seeding since the current dry spell may stretch till June. Bush fires causing the haze to reach unhealthy level and the dropping water levels at dams are also factors.

State Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony has instructed the Sabah Water Department to discuss on the possibility of carrying out cloud seeding with relevant departments and agencies.

State Water Department Director Ir. Amarjit Singh (pic) told Daily Express he would meet Federal Department of Environment (DOE) and Sabah Meteorological Department officials on the matter, which would be referred to the State-level Natural Disaster Committee chaired by State Secretary Datuk Seri Hashim Paijan for further action.

“We do not want to perform cloud seeding only when the water supply problem worsens and reach alarming level which Sabah had experienced during the El-Nino phenomenon in the late 1990s.

“I believe it is timely (to implement cloud seeding), considering the State Fire and Rescue Department is receiving daily reports on bush fires and the Air Pollutant Index (API) reaching 148. He said he noticed there are still clouds in Sabah and it is best to take advantage of the availability of clouds now than regret later.

To a question, Amarjit said the water in six dams in Sabah can last two to three months and has not reached critical stage.

Of the six dams in Sabah, he said only the one in Semporna is facing a deficit of seven million litres per day (seven MLD). The five others are facing no problems supplying water that can last for two to three months.

“The water supply in Semporna is quite critical as its two rivers – Sg Kalumpang and Sg Intan – are drying up and the two treatment plants in the district are getting water from the Timbangan dam now.

“As for Babagon Dam, the water reserve can last for three months and the two water treatment plants at Moyog and Kasigui are producing normal production of about 220 MLD in total.

“The other four dams, namely Telibong Dam in Telipok, Milau Dam in Kudat, Betotan Dam in Sandakan and Sepagaya Dam in Lahad Datu contain water that can last two to three months,” he said.

In addition, Amarjit said the 84 water treatment plants in Sabah produce 1,300 MLD which are now facing a deficit of 50 MLD from seven plants that are producing below nominal daily production and under control.

On a statement by Sabah Umno Wanita Chief Datuk Jainab Ahmad who wanted Amarjit to be sacked for “failing to improve clean water supply services and management in the State,” he asked Jainab to be specific in her claim.

He thanked Jainab for issuing the statement and pledged to work harder and that the department and all his dedicated officers in the State will give their best.

On Taman Bukit Sepanggar residents being without water since March 13, Amarjit said the residents and those nearby had been pre-warned by two notices on March 12 on upgrading works on the piping at Telibong 1 and Telibong water treatment plants and a second notice on March 14 on repair to be carried out at the Telibong 2 plant.

He said affected residents, including at Taman Bukit Sepanggar, were advised to store water pending normalcy.

On the 1,335 former workers of the water concessionaires that had been terminated and absorbed by the Water Department but yet to receive their salaries since Jan 15, Amarjit said the department is working closely with the State Treasury to expedite the process of issuing the January salary.

“There are procedures that need to be followed when the department absorbed the 1,335 former workers of the six water concessionaires that had been terminated.

“They have submitted the signed letters of offer issued by the department and returned them to us, which we have submitted to the State Treasury to be processed for issuance of their monthly salaries.

“I am working my level best to make sure they would get their January salary as soon as possible,” he said, adding that so far, vouchers for payment of monthly salary for January 2019 from eight treatment plants in Sabah such as in Pitas, Kota Belud, Membakut, and Tuaran have been sent to the State Treasury to be processed while the vouchers for the rest are being prepared.

He said upon being made State Water Department Director, he also followed the procedure and waited three months without pay as the waiting period to be in the civil service.

In TAWAU, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said it has formed a special committee to face the long drought that hit the country.

 According to him, his Ministry informed the State to prepare for the possible natural disaster.

 “We are ready and will announce a contingency plan including for fishermen if the dry season prolongs,” he said.

 “Last week, we went to Besut [in Terengganu] and made various efforts, including collecting water pumps and digging the ground [for water] to save the paddy,” Salahudin said after opening the Kalabakan office of the Farmers’ Organisation in Merotai.

 Salahudin also praised the Kalabakan organisation for its efficient management, which contributed to the rise of its income.

 “As a Federal Minister, I will work with my Sabah counterpart so that the organisation is managed well to ensure no delays in channeling central or state allocations to an area organisation,” he said.

 He welcomed the announcement by State Assistant Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Dr Daud Yusof of plans to plant musang king durians on 5,000 acres in Kalabakan.

He said he would ensure the supply of seeds of the fruit variety because he believed the venture could drive the economy with the good demand from China.

 He also welcomed the announcement by Kalabakan Member of Parliament Ma’mun Sulaiman of the proposed Ruminant Production Permanent Park in the district focusing on products from ruminants such as cow, buffalo, goat, sheep and deer.

 The proposal is due to the fact that there is a ready 300-acre grazing area on Sebatik Island.

 At the event, Salahuddin presented replica cheques for the construction of the Farmers Organisation’s Kalabakan office (RM1,690,600.50) construction of an agricultural product collection centre (RM200,000) and grant allocation under the Young Agropreneurs Programme (RM169, 000).

 There were also a grant allocated under the 2018 Change Upgrade Product Programme (RM7,735.70) and funding allocation under the Farming Entrepreneurs Development Fund for an amplang (fish crackers) entrepreneur (RM60,000). - Hayati Dzulkifli and Lagatah Toyos


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