Commitment to Save Ulu Muda must be backed by water-tight legislations
Last Update: 15/11/2019
GEORGE TOWN, Nov 15 -- A sincere commitment to 'Save Ulu Muda' in Kedah must be backed by water-tight legislations that clearly spell out the legal terms, conditions and timespan, said Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa.
Jaseni, who is also PBA Holdings Bhd CEO, said today the public announcement on Sept 4 last year stated that 'logging has been banned in Ulu Muda' was encouraging, however if it is not legally binding it would not pass the test of time.
"As it stands, Ulu Muda is not saved yet. The Federal Government should consider the correct facts and figures before making sound decisions to conserve and protect Ulu Muda properly and sustainably, as a 'Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) water catchment area'," he said in a statement.
His statement came after it was announced in Parliament recently that 74.3 per cent of the rainforests in Ulu Muda were not properly protected where only 15.3 per cent has been classified as water catchment forests while 10.4 per cent has been classified as state forest parks.
"On Nov 4, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow asked in Parliament if Ulu Muda had been fully gazetted, in view of its importance to water supply in the NCER. In its reply on the same day, the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (KATS) stated that the Kedah State Government had gazetted 106,418 hectares (ha) of the Ulu Muda forests as permanent reserve forests, or PRFs, since Sept 24, 1932.
"KATS also stated that on May 10, 2018, the Kedah State Forestry Department classified 16,299 ha of the PRFs (15.3 per cent of 106,418 ha) as water catchment forests and 11,118 ha (10.4% of 106,418 ha) as state forest parks.
“However, the classification of the remaining 79,001 ha (74.3 per cent of 106,418 ha) of rainforests in Ulu Muda was not revealed," he added.
Jaseni also said Kedah must be fairly compensated as the custodian of a NCER water catchment area in order for Ulu Muda to be conserved sustainably.
He said without fair compensation, Kedah will perpetually be tempted to open Ulu Muda to exploitation for economic gain.
"A threat to Ulu Muda is a threat to the NCER because it will affect water supply in three NCER states. About 4.2 million Malaysians live in Perlis, Kedah and Penang. In 2018, Perlis, Kedah and Penang accounted for a total of RM150 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) contributions (according to estimates published by the Department of Statistics)," he said.