Fri, 20 Aug 2010 15:17
By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: Land Development Minister James Masing is furious at opportunist companies who are flouting government guidelines with their indiscriminate logging and oil plam plantation activities in the water catchment areas at Murum, Ulu Belaga.
“There are guidelines issued by the relevant authorities in order for them to carry out their activities systematically, but some of the timber and oil palm companies don’t seem to care.
“They think they can do whatever they like since they are in the interior,” he said.
Last week, Masing received complaints from the locals on the indiscriminate activities of logging and oil palm companies at the dam catchment area.
The Penans have also complained that the Shin Yang timber company was clearing the site earmarked for their resettlement for the purpose of planting oil palm.
A furious Masing said: “It is bad enough that we face unfounded accusations from foreign NGOs, and now I have just been informed that some parties are cutting down large numbers of trees and even planting oil palm in these areas.”
Asked what action the government would take, Masing said: “I have already discussed with the enforcement people and the relevant authorities to check the activities of these companies. These companies must be selective in their logging activities.
“Because indiscriminate deforestation might create problems not only with the Penans, but also would affect the construction of the Murum dam.
“More over, such activities will lead to siltation and this will be harmful to the economic lifespan of the dam.
“Something has got to be done otherwise the government will be blamed and unnecessary criticisms will be levelled at us,” he added.
1,200 Penans and Kenyahs displaced
Masing who is the chairman of the Penan Resettlement committee said that the government was taking steps to ensure that the needs of the Penans, who would be displaced by the dam, is being looked after and the catchment area was reserved for them to forage for food.
“If the reserved area is destroyed, the Penans would find it difficult to feed their families through traditional means such as hunting and gathering jungle produce,” he said.
The RM3 billion dam, once completed, will displace some 1,200 Penans and Kenyahs from seven longhouses and villages namely Long Way, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim and Long Uba which is a Kenyah village.
The dam has a catchment area of 2,750 sq km and a potential reservoir area of 245 square km.
Like the Bakun dam, the Murum dam has also been condemned by the Penans, non-governmental organisations and the international community.