SUNGAI PETANI: Crystal clear and chlorine-free spring water used to gush out of the taps in many homes of hinterland villages of Kedah. Not any more.
The villagers, who used to enjoy this simply by piping hilltop springs and streams directly to their homes, now get water that is stained yellow.
They believe deforestation upstream is what spoiled their once prized water. They have voiced their grievances to the village heads but nothing has been done.
Haniza Ya, 45, a housewife from Kampung Bukit Berangan, said the water gets especially “dirty” after a downpour.
“This has been the scenario since 2013. We do not get water from the Syarikat Air Darul Aman Sdn Bhd (Sada), so our main source is the hill’s springs and we channel the water into a small reservoir,” she said.
“During the rainy season, we even get sand with the water. So, we store water for drinking and cooking when it is not raining and boil it properly,” said the mother of four.
Others said the affected villages were Kampung Belantik, Kampung Surau, Kampung Charok Keladi, Kampung Kota Aur, Kampung Bukit Berangan, Kampung Bukit Batu, Kampung Kuala Betong, Kampung Kubang, Kampung Lentang and Kampung Pinang. There is an estimated 8,000 villagers there.
A fisherman, who only wanted to be known as Pak Abu from Kampung Belantik, was certain that intense logging deep in the hills polluted their rivers.
“It has also reduced the number of fish in the river. I travel upstream and feel angry when I see murky waters deep in the forest,” he said.
Another villager wanting to be known only as Ahmad said the once clean Sungai Sok was now dirty.
“So much dirtier now but what can we do? These companies have the licence to log here,” he complained.
The 2014 Auditor-Generals report said the state approved 6,252ha of forest for logging and 4,612ha in 2013.
Kedah received RM30.1mil in forestry premiums in 2014 and RM10.8mil in 2013.
Previous Auditor-General’s reports showed that in 2012, the state government approved 8,542ha for logging and received RM32.93mil in premiums, while 12,909ha were approved in 2011 with a premium of RM74.92mil.
In 2010, 7,856.11ha yielded RM48.54mil while in 2009, 6093.68ha were approved for RM33.05mil.
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