CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Local non-governmental organisations denounced the incident involving the levelling of a plot of land here, saying there was no justification for the act which breaks guidelines and regulations.
“Whether the developer is using hydrophonics or not is immaterial as the issue is that laws have been broken,” Society of Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy said in response to a report in The Star yesterday on the controversial farming project in the Blue Valley.
On Thursday, the developer of the project said the levelling of the land was needed as it was the only way to conduct high technology farming using hydrophonics and claimed that it was “not destroying the environment but protecting it.”
Ramakrishnan said yesterday it was still possible to do hydrophonic farming without levelling the land but at a slightly higher cost and this was concurred by British biologist Dr Robert Butcher, who is conducting research on vegetable pests here.
He said the claim by the company K.C. Kwang & Sons Sdn Bhd that it had obtained approval for its plans to flatten the area should also be clarified by the district and land office here as this was causing confusion on the issue.
He also called for a list of housing and farming development projects which had been frozen to be released by authorities.
Malaysian Nature Society executive officer Andrew Sebastian said the claim that the developer obtained approval, if true, raised questions on how and why it was given.
District Officer Haron Abdul Kader, when met at his office, however, refused comment on the matter.
Sebastian said if the developer had gone against the regulations and bylaws in place, then he and his partners had to pay the price and said it was ludicrous for the developer to claim that he was protecting the environment when any land clearing in a sensitive area as the highlands would seriously affect the environment.
World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Mikaail Kavanagh Abdullah said the proposal, as stated previously by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi for any project in the highlands to require an environmental impact assessment, should be implemented immediately.
“It should also be a fully participatory process which involves the local residents and all stakeholders right from the start to prevent uproar later as has occurred now.
“As there is no consultation and information being given to the public they are not aware of which projects have been approved and the public can help monitorillegal activities and contraventions here if they have knowledge on the projects,” added Dr Kavanagh.
All the NGOs welcomed the formation of the new committee on the highlands as was announced and volunteered their services to the committee if required.
Sebastian said the committee would only be successful if it was given sufficient powers in monitoring and enforcement.
Ramakrishnan said one area where the committee could be effective was the alleged practice by farmers here in tapping water illegally from forest reserves and water catchment areas.
He said this matter was highlighted previously in The Star but nothing was done.
A visit by The Star yesterday to one of the sites concerned saw at least 100 different pipes running for kilometres tapping water from the river there.