Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urge the Kedah state government to investigate and stop the plantation project in Gunung Inas Permanent Reserve Forest, located near Kulim because it will cause environmental destruction and threaten local livelihoods in the future.
Our survey found that the project involving a forest area of over 30,000 hectares here has caused anxiety among the residents in 10 villages near here because they are concerned that their source of water supply will be affected if this project continues.
Preliminary work related to the project such as the construction of access roads for logging trucks have been carried out by the company. We regret that information regarding the project has yet to be provided to the public, especially to the local communities.
The affected villages are Kampung Kepala Titi, Kampung Gelugor, Kampung Kuala Tawar, Kampung Buluh Lemang, Kampung Bukit Rawa, Kampung Lindungan Raja, Kampung Baru, Kampung Desa Teruna, Kampung Sungai Riau and Kampung Sungai Buluh.
We are concerned with the implementation of the project as it involves watershed for the use of more than 5,000 villagers in these villages. Currently there are five water catchment ponds that are being used by the villagers for drinking, bathing and washing. In addition, the forest is also rich in biodiversity and there are several species of wildlife such as bears, tigers, elephants, deer, kijang and birds that will also be threatened.
We believe that the problem of soil erosion, sedimentation, pollution of rivers and flash floods will occur if the Gunung Inas Permanent Forest Reserve is cleared and destroyed. The three main rivers, namely Sungai Sedim, Sungai Mahang and Sungai Kerian including tens of tributaries in this area will also be polluted and silted up with mud. River fish which is the source of food and supplementary income for the villagers in this area may become extinct.
We understand that the Forestry Department of Kedah is conducting an investigation following CAP’s complaint to the authorities. Subsequently, in order to save the environment and the lives and livelihood of the villagers in the area, SAM and CAP urge the Kedah government to take appropriate actions to stop the project immediately.