ALOR SETAR: The state government is aware of the logging activities in the Ulu Muda forest reserve and efforts are being made to protect the reserve.
“Those who were found to have conducted logging illegally will be banned immediately,” said Kedah Water Supply, Water Resources and Energy Committee chairman Datuk Badrol Hisham Hashim.
He said he would look into the areas in the forest that were permitted for logging and the companies that were issued licences to do so.
He acknowledged that the place was an important water catchment area.
“Discussions will be held to see how it can be gazetted for that purpose,” he said.
Kedah Environment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong said the state government was not agreeable to any logging activity which could destroy the forest near the water catchment area.
He added if there was a dire need for the future of the people, the whole Ulu Muda forest reserve would be gazetted as a water catchment area to ensure no more encroachment.
A government official, who declined to be named, said the state had always hoped for no more logging in the water catchment areas and forest reserves but it was a fast way to get money to “run the state”.
At the Kedah state assembly sitting last year, former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said the state government had to issue logging licences to concessionaires as this was approved by the previous PAS administration.
Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) general manager Fouzi Ali said he was unaware that logging was being carried out in the forest reserve but stressed that it was important for the water catchment area to be protected.
As for the depleting water levels at the three dams in Kedah, Fouzi said the total amount was still sufficient.
He said it was also enough for irrigation for the first padi cultivation this year and the water used was from the Pedu Dam.
As of yesterday, the Pedu and Ahning dams were at safe levels while the Muda dam was at a “minimum safe” level.
Mada head of corporate communications Mohd Hafizi Zakariah said the water levels in Muda dam was at 92.34m (34.63%); Ahning dam at 105.22m (69.79%) and Pedu dam at 86.92m (47.72%).
“The release of water from the Muda dam for irrigation has been closed and the water from the Ahning and Pedu dams will be used instead.
“The average balance of all three dams is at 50.40% and we are confident that it can last until late September,” he said.
The Kedah Forestry Department has yet to furnish The Star with figures on the total area in the Ulu Muda forest that were sanctioned for logging.