Logging licence plan to be amended to prevent pollution at water catchment pond

Mohd Rafi Mamat

KUANTAN: The State Forestry Department has decided to amend the licence approval plan for logging activities at Bukit Segantang water catchment pond near Sungai Lembing here.

Its director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin said the move was to ensure the water source will be safeguarded and not polluted with mud, especially after heavy downpour.

He said the land located near the pond was not a forest reserve or virgin forest, as claimed by certain quarters, which resulted in some confusion. The land belongs to the state government.

“After discussing with the logging firm Sintamas Timber which was given approval to carry out the land clearing (logging) works, we decided to amend the plan so that it will not affect the water catchment pond. The people living there use water from the source for their daily needs.

“We hope the latest directive will allow the water catchment pond which has been used for some 50 years to be free from pollution and will not jeopardise the livelihood of the people in the vicinity,” he said today.

He said the Forestry Department’s Deputy Director (Operations) Datuk Mohd Basri Abdul Manaf and Kuantan Forestry Department Officer Ismail Ali Kamarudeen, along with representatives of Pahang’s Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), the residents, and the logging firm had visited the water catchment site recently.

Hizamri said following a discussion they all agreed to the idea to amend the plan.

He said the department had decided to establish a buffer zone along Sungai Kuala Kenau and the logging firm will not be allowed to cut the trees in the respective area to avoid pollution and soil erosion.

“The residents’ representative is advised to make an application to gazette the water catchment pond as a source of water so that the area will not be developed or other projects will not be carried out in the future.

“The department will make a suggestion to the district level committee to gazette the respective river site and the pond as a water catchment area to ensure the area will not be disturbed and instead preserved,” he said.

Last week, some 100 residents from Kampung Kuala Kenau claimed that the water catchment pond had been polluted since May 20, following logging activities in Bukit Segantang and they had to use the murky water for their daily use including preparing meals.

They have been relying on water supply from the pond which was located some 2km from their village as not all the homes were equipped with pipes to supply clean water from Pahang Water Management Berhad (Paip). © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd