Friday, June 20, 2008

Perak halts logging after protests

Friday June 20, 2008

GOPENG: The Perak government has issued an immediate stop-work order to all parties involved in logging near orang asli settlements here.

But that may not be enough to end the longstanding problems faced by some 2,000 villagers.

Yesterday, however, the villagers had an opportunity to vent their frustrations during a site visit by Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan, Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, government representatives, and activists.

Also present were officials from Gopeng Bhd, which has come under fire for removing a 14.5km long pipeline, which had run from the Ulu Geroh water catchment area to Gopeng town since November.

The villagers from Kampung Ulu Kampar, Kampung Ulu Geroh and Kampung Serkal alleged they had been victimised and threatened to resort to “violent action” if the “intrusion on their lands” continued.

“We do not want this anymore. No more logging. No more destruction of our ancestral grounds, our crops, our water source, our rivers, our businesses and our lives,” said nature guide Ahha Bah Udal.

The villagers claimed that the recent approval for a 136.72ha logging concession in Kg Empang Besar to a company would further destroy their lands.

“When Gopeng Bhd removed their pipeline, they destroyed our roads and our rivers with the sludge from their construction.

“Now they want to log this area. We will not accept this,” said Ulu Geroh village development and security committee chairman Bah Azmi Ng Porgi, who spoke on behalf of the villagers.

A visit to several areas yesterday showed hill slopes on the verge of slipping, clogged and murky rivers and a crumbling bridge.

Upon seeing the damage, Sivanesan issued an immediate stop work order pending a meeting to study the matter and its legal implications.

“This order is temporary and will be in force for two weeks.

“I need to study the approval given by the Forestry Department and any of the stipulated guidelines the contractor may or may not have breached.

“If the state finds any form of violation, we reserve the right to withdraw the logging approval and order for compensation for the damage caused,” he said.

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