By A. Jeyaraj
Residents of Taman Chepor Sentosa are worried that the new agricultural project being carried out at the Kledang Saiong Hill would lead to floods, landslides and mudslides.
During a press conference at a local surau on January 5, neighbourhood watch committee chairman Shamsul Kamar Ani said work started on the 151.49ha piece of land – which he claims is part of the Kinta Valley Geopark – about one month ago. He said this would not only affect the flora and fauna there but is also a safety concern for the over 1000 nearby residents. About two years ago, illegal corn farms were set up at the base of the hills and whenever there is a downpour, the area gets flooded.
Now with a new agriculture project planned higher up on the hill on land belonging to the Perak State Development Corporation (PKNP) the potential calamities would be serious. A number of streams are flowing from the hill and lately, the water has turned muddy. Residents fear that a popular waterfall nearby would soon turn muddy as well. Eventually, it would affect Sungai Pari into which the water would be flowing. People staying downstream of Sungai Pari would experience frequent floods.
Shamsul said that they had lodged a police report over the matter on January 4 and hope PKNP and the state government will stop the project immediately.
Surau chairman Datuk Ahmad Mohd said by going on with the project, the authorities were not respecting the declaration on the Geopark made by the Sultan of Perak in 2018.
Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, field officer of Sahabat Alam Malaysia said that although the clearing activity is within a 500.2ha area that had its forest reserve status degazetted, it is still part of the Kinta Geopark Valley. He added that although the land was degazetted by the previous administration, the current government should consider all aspects before pursuing the clearing.
On December 11, 2019, PKNP issued a statement stating that the land was being cleared for an orchard. It stated that the state Environment Department had done an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and on January 21, 2009, approval was given for the clearing. Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu is the PKNP chairman.
However, Meor Razak questioned the validity of the EIA conducted in 2009. Usually, EIA is valid for two years, but it is 10 years now and a new EIA must be done. “If the project was approved by the previous government and no activity was carried out, why must the current government go on with the project?” Meor asked.
The clearing cannot be seen from the ground. The extent of the clearing was viewed from a drone.
Why is the present government blindly continuing with the projects initiated by the previous government without doing further studies? Projects not beneficial to the people should be stopped, especially potentially hazardous ones.