PUTRAJAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has asked state governments to get the approval of their state assemblies before they develop recreational land.
Any de-gazetting of such land should be debated in the state assemblies so that the issues are brought out in the open, said Minister Datuk Seri Adenan Satem.
In this way, the public would be in the know of plans to develop certain areas, he said.
“Usually, the gazetting of state land for recreational purposes is done by state exco members without having to bring the matter up in the assemblies.
“Similarly, when the state exco members de-gazette these areas, it’s done quietly.
“It’s only when development works are being carried out that the public get wind of it,” he told reporters after launching the International Conference on Governing for Sustainability in the Asia-Pacific here yesterday.
Adenan said the proposed move was essential in the light of recent news reports of rampant illegal logging and development, especially of forest areas.
Among the news highlighted were:
Adenan said he would be bringing up the proposed move at the next meeting of the National Forestry Council, where he will be meeting the mentris besar and chief ministers.
He said there was no reason for state governments to avoid implementing such a policy as it would better protect the interests of the public.
“The Johor and Sarawak governments have implemented this policy,” he pointed out.
In Kuala Terengganu, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh voiced disagreement with the move, saying “it would make things more difficult” for the state government.
“If we do this, then everything else would have to be brought to the assembly,” K. SUTHAKAR quoted him as saying.
He said the state government was transparent in all matters, including development, which affected the environment and the people.
“As a responsible state government, we are already pro-active in gazetting more areas for wetlands and turtle sanctuaries,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had recently said he was upset that
recreational land like football fields were left unattended or taken away for development.
He cited the example of the football field near the Pudu Jail which had been earmarked for development.
On another matter, Adenan said the ministry had decided to set up a “flying squad” for better enforcement of the environmental protection laws under the Department of Environment and the Forestry Department.
“Currently, these departments have enforcement units in every state. But to strengthen enforcement, the flying squad will be set up at the headquarters level.
“Both the departments have also been directed to come up with monthly reports of their enforcement activities,” he said.
He added that a hotline had been set up (toll-free number 1-800-88-2727) which the people could call between 7.30pm and 11pm to report any illegal burning or other offences.
He said the Government also planned to go ahead to make Environmental Impact Assessments a must for development of areas exceeding 20ha. Currently, EIAs are only required for areas exceeding 50ha.