Malaysia: Unabated land clearing, mining mar Tasik Chini environment

AMIN RIDZUAN ISHAK New Straits Times 23 Feb 19;

PEKAN: At least two illegal mines operating without adhering to specifications and affecting the environment have been found near Tasik Chini near here.

The mines are located on a construction site and by the lakeside facing the Tasik Chini Research Centre.

A source said checks revealed that the sites did not have mining permits, but the miners were merely taking advantage of mining activities on licensed sites.

“However, they have not been operating over the past few days when the authorities were doing inspections,” he said yesterday.

On Thursday, Berita Harian reported that the future of Tasik Chini, which is famous for its dragon mythology and eco-tourism attractions, was becoming bleak due to unabated land clearing and mining at nearby Bukit Ketaya.

The 12 freshwater lakes spanning 5,084ha, which contribute to the local economy through tourism and fishing activities, are also affected as the lake water has turned murky.

A survey around the lakes and Bukit Ketaya found unregulated land clearing activities in the vicinity.

There were no buffer zones that were usually set to prevent environmental pollution.

It is understood that the land clearing for mining in the area began a few years ago, but it has been getting worse lately.

Following complaints, the Pahang government launched an integrated operation involving the Directorate of Land and Mines, the Department of Environment, the Mineral and Geoscience Department, the Forestry Department, the State Secretariat Office and the Pekan District and Land Office to rein in mining activities near Tasik Chini.

A BH survey yesterday found no ongoing mining work at Bukit Ketaya after the integrated operation and BH reports.

However, there were movement of lorries believed to be
transporting iron ore out of the mining area to the main road junction.

A resident, who wanted to be known only as Azlan, claimed that the lorries moved out of
the illegal mining area after 10pm.

“We were surprised with these unusual developments, which prompted us to report to the authorities.

“It’s good if the authorities can act against illegal mining companies which destroy the environment.

“What they are doing is wrong,” he said.

Extensive rehab programme needed to restore Tasik Chini to its former glory
New Straits Times 23 Feb 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: It is disheartening to read about the sad state of affairs of Tasik Chini which is allegedly due to extensive land clearing and mining activities in the area, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said something needed to be done to address the problem and also a need to implement a new paradigm of development that makes peace with the environment.

Lee said to address this, authorities must control the land clearing and mining activities near Tasik Chini and ensure that they will not affect the environment.

The state government must also consult experts who have conducted various studies on Tasik Chini apart from seeking advices from relevant agencies such as the Department of Environment, he added.

Lee said a special body must be set up to help manage Tasik Chini and implement an extensive rehabilitation programme to improve its condition.

"They have to move fast as Unesco is due to conduct an audit on the lake’s biosphere reserve status from May to September this year," he said in a statement, today.

It was reported that the country's second largest freshwater lake may lose its biosphere reserve status accorded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 1996 if no action is taken to improve its poor condition.

Lee added that authorities should realise that they must make peace with the environment as it could also help prevent natural disasters such as landslides, floods and other natural disasters.

"It is worth the effort since preserving the nature and conducive environment will ensure that our future generation could inherit a safe and environmental friendly nation.

"Unless we make peace with our environment we will have to pay a heavy price for not showing due care and concern for the environment and taking positive steps to protect it," he said.

Located in Pekan district, Pahang, Tasik Chini covers an area of 5,084 hectares.

It has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and is home to 87 species of freshwater fish, 189 species of birds, 51 low-forest species, 15 freshwater swamp forest species and 25 aquatic plants.

Former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Tasik Chini Research Centre director Professor Datuk Seri Dr Mushrifah Idris has recently exposed that extensive land clearing and mining may cost the lake and the country dearly.

A report by UKM in 2010 has also revealed that “the eco-system of Tasik Chini was in a critical and dying situation”, prompting Transparency International Malaysia and several civil society partners to embark on a national campaign to save the lake.