KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Government will not explore the Ulu Muda area, which serves as a water catchment area for three states – Kedah, Perlis and Penang – the Dewan Rakyat was told.
Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said he has received confirmation from the Kedah Mentri Besar that the area will not be explored or be allowed for any logging activities, including those that had been previously approved.
"Based on this big sacrifice made by the Kedah state government, won't it be nice if the Penang state government, which has benefitted a lot, contribute some financial assistance to the Kedah state government that has ‘sacrificed’ the water catchment area to ensure the continuous supply of water in other states remain protected," he told Nurul Izzah Anwar (PH-Permatang Pauh) during Minister's Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (Dec 10).
Nurul Izzah had asked the Ministry to detail the measures taken to protect the Ulu Muda area, which is a source of raw water for some 2.4 million people in Kedah, Perlis and Penang, to avoid toxic pollution if any rare earth element mining is allowed in Kedah.
Tuan Ibrahim said all mining activities come under the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 2015, which requires the project developer or any parties that want to be involved in mining activities to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Department of Environment (DOE) for approval.
He noted the approval would also fall under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 before any work can begin at the site.
"Until now, the DOE has yet to receive any applications for the approval of the EIA report.
"Rare earth element mining activity is under the control and monitoring of the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry.
"If there are any mining activities conducted, the Environment and Water Ministry will ensure that the EIA report will be considered professionally and carefully to ensure that the sustainability of the environment is protected, ” he said.
Tuan Ibrahim added that his ministry knows it is important to protect all water catchment areas.
"At the same time, discussions with the state governments involved are needed to ensure the conservation of catchment areas, to look into implementation mechanisms and finances," he said.