GEORGE TOWN: Penang is hoping that Kedah will be compensated fairly for lost revenue if the latter stops logging activities in Ulu Muda.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang will initiate a top-level meeting between Putrajaya and leaders of Kedah and Perlis to find an amicable solution to the logging activities, which have threatened the largest water catchment area in the northern region.
He said the meeting would be coordinated by Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa once the minister concerned has been appointed.
“Penang receives about 80% of its raw water supply from Ulu Muda, which also provides water to Kedah and Perlis.
“The Kedah government has been given a concession to conduct logging in the 42,000ha of land within the water catchment area and we want the logging to stop to ensure sufficient water supply to all three states.
“The supply of water affects about four million people in three states and will economically affect over RM100mil in gross domestic product,” said Chow during the World Water Day celebration at Penang City Park.
Jaseni, who was also present, said the total area of Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is about 163,000ha and the Auditor-General's report showed that 42,264ha of forest in Kedah has been approved for logging between 2009 and 2014.
“Based on calculations, at the rate they are logging, we estimate the forest will finish in about 12 to 15 years, and we will face a serious water crisis.
“Attention needs to be given as Kedah is the rice bowl of Malaysia and water supply is critical for padi irrigation,” he said.
PBAPP had been championing the cause to save Ulu Muda since 2009, and Jaseni said the campaign has so far gathered over 150,000 signatures against logging in Ulu Muda.
The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve and its surrounding forested areas (known as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest) is the largest water catchment area in the northern region.
About 96% of raw water in Kedah, 70% in Perlis and more than 80% in Penang comes from Ulu Muda.