Malaysia: 'Logging in Ulu Muda reserve should be halted'

The Star 9 Mar 17;

GEORGE TOWN: The Federal Government should order an immediate stop to logging activities in Kedah’s Ulu Muda Forest Reserve, said the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).

Its chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the activities threaten the water supply to more than four million people in three northern states.

He called for the reserve to be gazetted as a water catchment area.

Also, he called on the Government to “compensate Kedah in lieu of the forest premium”, in a statement yesterday.

Jaseni said the federal and state governments must conserve the water catchment area in the interests of Kedah, Perlis and Penang.

“The capacity of Muda Dam, built to store water for strategic releases into Sungai Muda during dry seasons, has dropped and was at 27.3% capacity as of Tuesday.

“The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is the catchment area for the dam and the logging in the area could be one of the main reasons affecting the dam’s capacity,” he said.

It was also the catchment area for Sungai Muda which provides raw water for processing in South Kedah and Penang, according to him.

Jaseni said the quality and volume were affected, with the river murkier now, which makes it more costly to treat the water.

The logging activities have disrupted the forest’s ability to absorb and retain rainwater, he said.

He said the river was also the source for Ahning Dam which supplies raw water to Perlis.

Also, more than 80% of Penang’s raw water was taken from Sungai Muda daily, he added.

“If anything goes wrong in Ulu Muda, it will jeopardise the wellbeing of all the people, businesses and agricultural activities in the northern states,” he said.

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