BAGAN SERAI: Encroachment into the more than 200ha of forest reserves that is a buffer zone around the Bukit Merah reservoir is believed to be one of the factors affecting the water catchment area at the Bukit Merah Dam.
Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the intrusion, especially at Kampung Selamat and Pondok Tanjung forest reserve, had been happening for the past few years and was primarily used for agricultural purposes.
“This buffer zone is to store water for the dry season, and when the Bukit Merah Dam level recedes, water from here will flow into the reservoir.
“The encroachment has affected the ecosystem. Sedimentation has made the lake shallow, and heavy rain leads to flooding, because the trees which were meant to act as the buffer have been cut,” he told reporters after visiting the encroached areas with Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).
The Bukit Merah Dam supplies water to over 22,000ha of padi fields in the Kerian district, and is the source of drinking water for over 200,000 people, including the industrial needs in Kamunting, Taiping.
According to Noor Azmi, who is also Bagan Serai Agriculture Development chairman, measures of cloud seeding and upgrading the Bukit Merah reservoir would be in vain, if the encroachment issue was not addressed.
“I have requested the Government to reserve this site for environmental remediation and to keep it as a watershed,” he said.
SAM researcher Meor Razak Meor Rahman said several areas in Pondok Tanjung and Kampung Selamat previously used to supply water to the reservoir here, had been encroached.
He claimed that his organisation found about 1,400ha of the Pondok Tanjung forest reserve degazetted for breeding Boer goats. – Bernama