Land clearing continues as flood fears grip town

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 09 Nov 2014

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Even as police searched for those washed away by Wednesday’s floods, it was business as usual – as far as land clearing was concerned.

On Friday, opposite the Kea Farm market, heavy machinery was flattening a large patch of land while tourists shopped nearby. Work only seemed to stop the following day, likely due to the rain which fell throughout the day.

Ten years ago, visitors here were greeted by rolling hills with lush forests and rivers carrying clear running water.

Today, there are vegetable farms almost everywhere, some even on the steep slopes. And what little is left appears to have been taken over by construction, with an upcoming shopping centre downhill from Kea Farm towards Tringkap.

Other buildings are just a stone’s throw away from nearby rivers, with only a muddy slope in between.

The constant land clearing here has irked many, such as Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach) president R. Ramakrishnan.

He said warning signs set up by the district office were ignored by farmers, who seemed to have no problem manning fields stretching from the main road to the rivers.

There is also no restraint on the dumping of rubbish and unwanted vegetables and flowers into the rivers.

Silt from poor soil management here has turned many of the rivers murky.

Ramakrishnan said dirt and rubbish had raised river levels, and affected the Sultan Abu Bakar Dam.

The effects can be clearly seen with landslides and large cracks seen on one stretch of the main road.

Even Kuala Terla’s town signboard, near where C. Munesh, 15, was swept away by floodwaters, has fallen into a riverbank.

With the dam filled to the point of overflowing, many residents, especially those living downstream, are fearful of a downpour.

Ramakrishnan cautioned that unless the Govern­ment took drastic action, things would get a lot worse here.

“Last year was a warning. This year is just the beginning,” he said.

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