Perak govt in the dark over sand dredging near Pangkor

Nuradzimmah Daim

PARIT: THE Perak government has raised environmental concerns about sand-dredging near its waters, following the detention of two vessels 27.5 nautical miles off Pangkor Island.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said the state government was in the dark over the matter.

He said while the activity was beyond the state’s jurisdiction, he said they should be informed as the activity could impact the marine ecosystem at one of Malaysia’s tourism spots.

“Legally, the dredging site falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government as it is located more than three nautical miles off the Perak shore.

“However, I feel the state governments should be made aware of any sand dredging in their territorial waters. I hope the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will look into this (in future).

“I had raised the matter recently and the ministry has informed me that it would investigate,” he said.

Under Section 4(4) of the Continental Shelf Act 1966 (Revised 1972), the Continental Shelf area covers an area situated outside the territorial waters of the state. The section empowers the Natural Resources and Environment Minister to grant the licence for sand mining in the particular site.

The sand dredging company’s vessels are in detention pending investigations by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). The case is expected to be mentioned in the Manjung court this week.

MMEA had, on Jan 15, detained the sand dredging and transporter vessel while transferring work of the dredged material was being carried out.

It has opened investigations under the Continental Shelf Act 1966 (Revised 1972) for sand theft as the operator had failed to produce proof of documents issued by the Land and Mines Department.

In the operation, 15 Chinese citizens and an Indonesian, aged between 21 and 55, were detained to assist in investigations.

It was learnt that the vessels belonged to a Chinese firm rented out to a local company.

The dredged material was to be sent to Penang for a reclamation project there.