KUANTAN: Claims that mining activities being carried out around Tasik Chini is within a forest reserve area are untrue, says the Pahang Land and Mines director's office.
In a statement on Saturday (June 12), it said a total of 14 mining licenses were issued in the area before 4, 600ha of Tasik Chini State Park was gazetted in 2019 as the Chini Forest Reserve.
It added that no new licences have been issued since then.
According to the executive summary of the mining project's environmental impact assessment, the 40.51ha project site was located outside the gazetted area.
"The area gazetted as the Chini Forest Reserve has also been proposed as a new Unesco Biosphere Reserve area by state authorities.
"Of these 14 mining areas, only two remain in operation," it said, adding that one of these licences will expire in June and the other at the end of this year.
"To ensure environmental sustainability and in keeping with the importance of conserving natural resources, the state authorities or the Pahang government are committed to ensuring that no new licences will be issued in the Tasik Chini area," it said.
The statement was in response to media reports related to the issue of environmental destruction in Tasik Chini due to mining activities.
Social media was abuzz with reactions following reports that mining operations had been approved about 3km southeast of Tasik Chini.
The office added that state authorities would not compromise on the lessee or operator's failure to comply with conditions set through evaluation and review from eight technical agencies from Federal and state governments.
These agencies were the Mineral and Geoscience Department, state Forestry Department, Department of Environment (DOE), Irrigation and Drainage Department, Land and District Office, Water Regulatory Body, state Wildlife and National Parks Department and Public Works Department.
"On June 17, 2020, state authorities through the state executive council issued an order to stop work immediately on 11 lessees or operators in the Tasik Chini area due to non-compliance with the conditions of mining approvals.
"The state authorities also issued a standard operating procedure for remedial action due to non-compliance with the conditions for approval of mining activities in Tasik Chini, Mukim Penyor, Pekan district on July 20, 2020, to all lessees or operators involved," said the office.
It said the operators were required to do clear demarcation, install barriers or fences, plant trees, register machinery use, be charged a bond of RM250, 000, set inspection schedule, prepare enforcement team posts, install signage and receive periodic inspection visits.
"They are only allowed to operate after all instructions have been complied with," it said.
The office also said that DOE had been monitoring the water quality of Tasik Chini since 2005 with 15 water monitoring stations, and the results found that the water quality was at a clean and safe level for all aquatic life.
"DOE has enforced the order to prepare environmental impact assessment reports starting in 2015 to ensure environmental sustainability.
"The state Forestry Department, on the other hand, has carried out rehabilitation work and tree planting from Nov 18, 2019, to Dec 30, 2019, over 1.2ha in the Tasik Chini area through the Joint Rehabilitation Trust Fund at a cost of RM250, 000.
"State authorities or the Pahang government have always been consistent in ensuring the sustainability of natural resources, not only in Tasik Chini, but throughout the state as evident in the firmness and success of the enforcement and conservation of Sungai Ichat in Mukim Hulu Tenom, Cameron Highlands," it said.
The office stressed that the Pahang government always strove to stimulate economic activities for the state's prosperity and would continue to prioritise sustainability and environmental protection.