New initiatives on global warming


NST Online, 19th January 2008

By Sheridan Mahavera and R. Sittamparam

KOTA TINGGI: Global warming and climate change will be dealt with more emphatically under the Ninth and Tenth Malaysia Plans, which will feature a chapter on measures to mitigate their effects, the deputy prime minister said.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said initiatives would include stringent regulations on residential projects built in low-lying areas and projects to reduce flooding.

Some of the initiatives have already been started, such as placing sand dredging barges in all major rivers in the country to increase their water carrying capacity during heavy rains.

Others include requiring developers to take account of an area's vulnerability to flooding before housing projects were built and reviewing the designs of houses, Najib said.

A higher priority would also be placed on environmental conservation, he said after the ground-breaking ceremony for a flood resettlement scheme in the Hulu Sungai sub-district (mukim) here yesterday.

During his speech earlier, Najib, who is also chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, said the floods last December cost the country RM900 million in damages to public infrastructure, private property and agricultural assets.

The floods in December 2006 and January 2007 had caused RM1 billion in damages.

"Imagine that from now on, the government has to deal with RM1 billion in damages every year due to extraordinary floods brought on by global warming.

"So under the Ninth and Tenth Malaysia Plans we will focus on dealing with its effects," Najib said.

It was reported that sand dredging barges had already been stationed in major rivers such as Sungai Johor and Sungai Pahang to deepen beds and widen the banks all year round.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid had also announced that the government was considering reviewing or even cancelling projects that could worsen floods.

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