Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is shocked to learn of the decision by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister (WLNR), Dr. Xavier Jayakumar to lift the moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang and for activities to resume effective 1 April.
While the WLNR Ministry is responsible for regulating the mining industry including bauxite, it does not have the jurisdiction and authority to regulate the environmental impacts of such mining activities, which is within the purviewof the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) for the enforcement of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974.
The moratorium on bauxite mining was imposed by the former Environment Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr.Wan Junaidi 3 years ago, due to very serious environmental effects that resulted from the mining activities and run-offs from unsecured stockpiles that contaminated water sources, turning roads, rivers and coastal waters red and severely impacted local communities, including fisherfolk who were adversely affected.
Clearly, the WLNR Minister has disregarded environmental concerns and has not consulted the affected local communities orenvironmental groups on the matter and has given in to the bauxite industry.
We also wonder if he has consulted with MESTECC, which is the relevant authority on environmental matters.
We urge the Minister not to lift the ban on bauxite mining as there is no justification to do so, given the lack of clarity on the environmental measures and controls being taken to prevent a repeat of previous incidences of contamination and pollution.
Profits for the mining industry must not be put ahead of the environment and health of the people. The environmental costs to the public and the environment must also be taken into account and we are upset that the Minister has ignored this and has put the industry concerns ahead of the public interest.
S.M. Mohamed Idris