It may sound corny by Kedah really needed to be saved. The last five years under PAS, Kedah regressed backwards. We are not talking about Kolej Universiti Insaniah’s (KUIN) employees not being paid for their services and EPF and SOCSO contributions. The mismanagement and negligence of Kedah State Government under PAS saw environmental issues creeping in very rapidly.
400 hectares of timber on the banks and hills of Lake Pedu have been plundered. This area is the water catchment for the lake, which is the main source for the Pedu Dam.
This affected the production and quality of water to the Pedu Dam, which provides 10% of the water needs of the State of Kedah. Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA), the authority managing Pedu Dam already acknowledged that they would face serious issues with the environmental affect of this logging.
There is no buffer zone of the logging area around Lake Pedu. The ‘divide’ or buffer zone between the logging area and the lake is just a road cutting across.
It came as no surprise that no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted before the contractors started to indiscriminately cut the trees down. The EIA was only done when the Department of Environment (JAS) issued a stop-work order for the logging activities in the water catchment area. According to JAS standard operating procedure, any logging area more than 500has requires an EIA report before it can be approved.
In this case, just like other logging projects in Kedah the past five years, the project was broken into parcels of 50has each to avoid the JAS ruling being imposed. MADA was not consulted when the Kedah State Government received the application to do logging in this area.
Kedah Director of Forestry Ku Azmi Ku Aman said that the department rejected the proposal to do logging in the water catchment areas. However, Kedah State Government rejected the Forestry Dept technical comment and went ahead to approve the said project even though Pedu Lake has been gazetted as a water catchment area.
The impact of the erosion due rapid disvegetation is very disastrous. Rain fall no longer being tapped by the vegetation but flow on the surface, bringing in mud and other minerals direscly into the streams and eventually the rivers. Not only Sungai Muda and Sungai Padang Terap has been violated, all the logging in water catchment areas which include Gunung Inas and Gunung Enggang would result in the loss of 500 tones of rice, affecting over 55,000 farmers family. Last April, four kampungs (Kilang Kechil, Lanjut Binjai, Lorong Haji Daud and Air Putih) around Pendang area experienced the worst flood in 50 years.
Rivers in Kedah are increasingly murky and muddy after these indiscriminate logging upstream started since five years ago. Laboratory tests shown that samples from Sungai Lata Chelak, Sungai Sintok and Sungai Pelandok have the respective readings of 8,000, 16,380 and 16,460 Nephelomteric Turbidity Unit (NTU). The WHO standard stands only at 1,000 NTU. Sungai Badak NTU reading is recorded at 18,600.
NST report on the experts’ caution on the impact to flora and fauna
‘Pedu land clearing will affect 400 species’ALOR STAR: The habitats of some 400 species of animals, including the rare plain-pouched hornbills, are being threatened by the Pas-led state government’s agro-tourism project near Pedu Dam.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) research officer S. Mageswari feared that the animals’ habitat would be affected by land clearing taking place on a 358ha site near the area.
“During a research conducted on the Pedu forest with the World Wide Fund for Nature two years ago, we spotted a plain-pouched hornbill.
“We feared that the habitat of the hornbill, which is an endangered species, would be destroyed by the development works,” she told the New Straits Times.
The land clearing was done to make way for a mango plantation to promote agro-tourism in the state. Mageswari said the absence of the animals would affect the ecosystem in the area.
“SAM is not choosing sides as we will not gain anything by doing so. However, we strongly believe that the state government should consider relocating the project.”
State Wildlife and National Parks Department director Rozidan Md Yasin said the animal habitats would be affected by the land clearing.
It was reported that around 12,000 people who were taken for a tour at the site were shocked by the deforestation. The land clearing also irked 60,000 padi farmers, who urged the state government to scrap the project, which they claimed would affect their yield.
A Forestry Department spokesman said the project developer had been instructed to ensure that the land clearing did not trigger soil erosions and landslides.
On claims that rivers in the area had become murky and polluted, he said the department had taken water samples for testing.
An aerial photo showing a murky river near the Pedu agro-tourism project site.
Kedah State Government claimed that this 400has area in Pedu Lake is earmarked for fruit farming. Experts say that fruit trees would not act and give the same effect as the natural jungle and vegetation which was plundered for commercial gains.
On 26 November 2012, Kampung Landai Melaka in Sik also experienced the same extraordinary flood. Up to 30 cm 0r 1 foot of mud sediment was recorded in all these floods. The 28 days old bridge was also swept away in this mud flood.
What is shocking is the response of Menteri Besar Kedah Dato’ Seri Azizan Abdul Razak when asked about these issues. On 25 December 2012 he said that the logging activities in Pedu and Gunung Inas “Was in accordance with guidelines”. Even though the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued stop-work orders, Azizan was stubborn about it and insisted the project must continue.
On 31 December, Azizan announced that Kedah State Government is considering to allow another 1,000 has to be explored for more logging activities. The excuse is that this Kedah State Government’s decision is inline with NCER’s decision to make Kedah the food producing state.
It is very clear that Kedah needed to be saved. The treasure of the lush greenery in the hills along Semenanjung ‘backbone’ of the Titiwangsa range provide very invaluable fauna and flora. This disastrous phenomena never has been seen in Kedah before is the repeat of excessive logging allowed by Kelantan State Government in Ulu Kelantan, particularly the Lojing area.