Malaysia: Logging made water polluted, say villagers

joash ee de silva The Star 26 May 18;

KUANTAN: It has been a challenging week for the villagers of Kuala Kenau and the surrounding areas in Sungai Lembing near here.

About 100 of them have seen their water source polluted, turning brown and muddy.

Mohd Nawi Mat Arif, 48, who has lived in the village since he was born, said the dirty water had caused them much difficulty.

“Sometimes we have no choice but to use the brown water to wash clothes. If the shirt is white, it will turn brown,” said Nawi.

Wan Suhaili Wan Kamaruzaman, 34, said she had to send her youngest child to the clinic for itchiness after bathing with the water.

“The doctor gave him antibiotics and an ointment. He is getting better,” said Wan Suhaili.

“Some of us have a treated water supply but it is expensive and it is not switched on 24/7, so we still use water from the catchment area.”

The villagers are blaming logging activities around the water catchment area at Bukit Segantang as the source of the pollution.

Wan Mohd Rasidi Wan Mohd Alih, 51, said the water catchment area had supplied water to their houses for decades.

“When a company started logging near the water catchment area last week, our water turned into teh tarik,” Rasidi said.

“When there is heavy rain, the water would turn muddy and villagers would have to walk 40 minutes up the hill to get clean water,” he told reporters yesterday.

After the villagers took reporters to the logging site and the water catchment area, Sintanmas Timber director Datuk M.K. Tan came to the village to meet the press.

He claimed the firm did not fell trees around the water catchment area, adding it had the necessary permits, including the Environ­mental Impact Report for logging.

“We didn’t log trees near the water catchment area and stopped once we came near it,” said Tan.

“It is hard to say who is at fault with regards to the pollution, but for now we will stop logging to investigate the matter.”

Sungai Lembing state assemblyman Datuk Md Sohaimi Mohamed Shah, when contacted, said he was surprised to hear of the case, explaining that he had reminded the Forestry Department since 2014 not to allow logging activities near water catchment areas.

“These places are very important for the villagers.

“I will try make a visit to Kampung Kuala Kenau and maybe bring Fores­­­try Department officials toge­ther to solve this issue,” he said.

100 Sungai Lembing residents suffering after water source is contaminated

KUANTAN: More than 100 residents of Kampung Kuala Kenau in Sungai Lembing have been forced to use murky water for their everyday chores, including meal preparation, for the past week.

They claim the source of the water had been contaminated due to logging activities nearby.

The residents said many of the houses in the village were not supplied treated water by Pengurusan Air Pahang Bhd (PAIP) and had to rely on the Bukit Segantang water catchment area located about 2km away.

Resident Wan Mohamad Rasidi Wan Mohd Alih, 51, claimed the problem began on May 20, adding that logging activities were at its height then.

He said the water catchment area had been the main source of water ever since the village began a century ago, but the water there was now murky with sediment from the logging activities, sand and leaves from the felled trees.

"The water coming out of the pipes is not just murky... it also contains sand. It's the colour of tea and it gets worse whenever it rains. We have never had this problem before," he said.

Another resident, 43-year-old Wan Khairuddin Wan Noda, claimed the situation had, in a short space of time, caused skin problems, including itchiness, among some residents, especially those who use it to bathe.

“Even though they know that using contaminated water would bring problems, they have no other choice as not all of them can afford to pay for piped water.”

Housewife Wan Suhaili Wan Kamaruzzaman, 34, said it was difficult for her to prepare food for the family for sahur and buka puasa meals.

“I have to collect the water and let the sediment settle first before using it. Even though I am wary of using the water, I have no other choice as this is the only water we have.”

Checks by the New Straits Times Press showed that there were indeed logging activities some 500m from the water catchment area. The water seemed to be a murky, yellowish brown colour.

It is understood that the logging activities, carried out by Sintanmas Timber Sdn Bhd and covering some 24.96ha, is legal. It began on March 23 and will go on till June 22.

Sintanmas Timber director Datuk M.K. Tan, when contacted, denied that the logging had caused any contamination of the water.

“We have followed all the regulations. But, we will investigate the claims anyway,” he said.

Dept: Logging activities did not contaminate catchment pond
The Star 27 May 18;

KUANTAN: The Pahang Forestry Department has denied allegations that logging activities caused the contamination of the water catchment pond at Bukit Segan­tang in Sungai Lembing here.

Its director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin said logging was not being carried out near the pond, which was reportedly a source of water supply for about 100 residents in Kampung Kuala Kenau here.

He said the department had issued a logging licence in the area involving 25ha of state government land of non-virgin jungle status, divided into two blocks.

“Work is at 15% and involves only Block A.

The department, said Dr Mohd Hizamri, had also carried out a field inspection at 5pm on Friday.

“We found that the catchment pond is still clear, not murky at all and still being used by some villa­gers,” he said.

Dr Mohd Hizamri was respon­ding to claims by Kampung Kuala Kenau residents that the 100-year-old water catchment pond had been polluted since May 20, following logging activities.

He said he had held consultations with representatives of the residents near the forest to get their views on March 14.

Besides those from Kampung Kuala Kenau, the session was also attended by representatives from Kampung Sungai Mas, Kampung Melayu Sungai Lembing, Kampung Jeram Takar and Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Mas, he said.

“During the session, there were no objections against the logging activities and the representatives also signed a letter agreeing to these,” Dr Mohd Hizamri said. — Bernama

Logging licence plan to be amended to prevent pollution at water catchment pond
Mohd Rafi Mamat New Straits Times 30 May 18;

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).