KUALA TERENGGANU: Pulau Perhentian Besar and Kecil, the havens for marine life, are under threat environmentally due to poorly planned tourism development, ineffective sewage treatment and solid waste disposal.
The state government is worried that this could lead to severe damage to coral reefs found in abundance surrounding both islands.
State Commercial, Industry and Environment Committee chairman Toh Chin Yaw said the new chalets have compounded the problem as many of them did not have proper sewage and rubbish disposal systems.
“Some of these operators are taking the easy way out by diverting all types of wastes from their chalets direct into the sea,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Toh said during the peak season, mounds of garbage bags could also be seen around the islands, believed to have been left by these operators.
“They are blaming us for not centralising the sewage system and garbage collection without realising that it is too costly for the state government to do that.
“We have commissioned a contractor to regularly collect the garbage from the islands to be disposed of on the mainland, but many of the operators are refusing to pay the maintenance fees and continued to indiscriminately throw their garbage into the sea,” he added.
Toh said the state government would build a sewage treatment plant on the islands if the operators were willing to pay the monthly maintenance fees.
However, he doubted that they would do so as at present, they were also unwilling to share part of their revenues to be utilised for the pollution control efforts as advocated by the state government.
“We are intensifying our environmental awareness programme, besides encouraging operators to improve their waste facilities.
“We will also rope in the relevant authorities to educate these operators on the importance of protecting the eco-system at these islands,” he added.