‘Rivers, waterfalls in Selangor forest reserve areas off limits’

Authorities telling visitors at Sungai Pisang in Gombak to pack up and leave. — Photo courtesy of Selangor Forestry Department

SELANGOR folk planning an outing to riversides and waterfalls in forest reserve areas should cancel their plans as authorities in the state have warned that such places are currently off limits.

State Forestry Department director Datuk Ahmad Fadzil Abd Majid said the police would issue compounds to errant individuals found engaging in leisure activities at such places.

“The issue is not about needing a permit or being fully vaccinated, as all recreational venues in forest reserves are currently closed.

“Members of the public who are found in such areas will be asked to leave immediately.

“This directive will remain in effect until further notice,” he told StarMetro.Earlier this week, photos and videos on social media showed crowds of people bathing without minding physical distancing rules at Sungai Pisang located within the Gombak Forest Reserve.

Many sightseers have been visiting riversides to picnic and enjoy recreation time with family and friends ever since Klang Valley entered Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan recently.

Authorities monitoring the entrance to Sungai Pisang. No visitors are allowed at the moment as the river lies within the Gombak Forest Reserve. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The StarAuthorities monitoring the entrance to Sungai Pisang. No visitors are allowed at the moment as the river lies within the Gombak Forest Reserve. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

A guideline, released on Sept 9 by National Security Council for states under Phase Two, says picnicking is allowed for fully-vaccinated individuals. They can also bring along children under 17, albeit with strict compliance with the usual standard operating procedures.

Central Selangor district forestry officer Khairul Nizam Mohamed told a news portal that the guideline did not include areas in forest reserves.

The police, alongside officers from the Forestry Department, Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) and district health office conducted an operation at Sungai Pisang last Thursday.

They found 50 visitors there, some of whom had pitched a tent to rest after partaking in outdoor activities.

Ahmad Fadzil said further checks found that all the visitors were fully vaccinated, but they were told to leave. No compound was issued.

MPS Corporate Department deputy director Ahmad Fauzi Ishak said the council only assisted in the operation, and that the authority to issue compounds was with the police and Health Department.

Meanwhile, netizens raised concerns about visitors who had discarded their plastic waste and paper wrappings in the area, including in the river itself.

Fadzil Akmar commented on Facebook that visitors should take their rubbish home to be disposed of properly, and that people should behave responsibly to ensure public places were kept clean, especially sites near water sources.

Nur Anisah Abdullah said poor hygiene attitudes revealed the mentality of the litterbugs, and urged authorities to be stern by issuing fines.

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