Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ecological havoc: State govt panned

12 October 2010

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR today slammed the state government for its failure to prevent an “ecological disaster” when timber mass and debris clogged the Rajang River for the past five days.

“Its failure to contain the problem shows poor governance and incompetence in dealing with the consequences of developments.

“Sarawakians will suffer greater losses in terms of socio-economic costs and ecological damage,” PKR information chief See Chee How said.

“After five days, the state government is still in the dark as to its root cause,” said See, pointing out that whenever it rains in the upper reaches of major rivers, floods are reported in towns along and at the lower reaches of the rivers.

See was commenting on the massive logjam caused when tonnes of logs and wood debris drifted down the Rajang River for about 250km, stretching from Ulu Baleh to Sibu.

As a result, river communication by express boats was disrupted between Sibu and other towns such as Kanowit, Song and Kapit.

Tonnes of dead fish such as Sarawak’s famous fish empurau which cost about RM500 per kilo have been found floating in the river.

“I agree with (Land Development Minister) James Masing that this is an ecological disaster,” See said.

“I feel constrained to agree with Masing when he urged the state government not to take an ‘ostrich’ approach,” See said, adding that Masing’s call to his cabinet colleagues to take stern action was quite “bizarre”.

“It is certainly weird when he asked the state government not to adopt an ostrich approach (in tackling the problem). However, I would also like to call on Masing to keep his head above the sand and tell us what he has done in the Cabinet.

“This is the third ecological havoc which has seriously affected the livelihood of the people in Baleh,” he said.

The first disaster was at Ga’at in 2008 and the second at Sungai Tunoh last year.

Uncontrolled logging

Furthermore, See said, the state disaster and relief management committee had stated that the massive flow of log and timber mass and debris “was believed to have originated from Putai and Nungan in the upper reaches of Baleh River”.

As state assemblyman for Baleh, Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak president, should not just point fingers at others, he added.

“However, he is not the minister who issued timber concession licences for the indiscriminate logging in Ulu Baleh, which had caused tonnes of timber mass and enormous debris to flow down the Rajang River.

“At least, it is now clear who Masing was referring to as an ostrich. No wonder he sounded angry, yet helpless, even though he is in his Cabinet,” he said.

Meanwhile, Masing said that whoever caused the massive logjam in the Rajang River should be punished.

He said blamed the disaster on uncontrolled logging in the upper reaches of Baleh River.

He urged the relevant authorities to investigate the matter and make the culprits accountable.

“This is an ecological disaster. The mud has killed fish in the rivers for over 100km.

“The government cannot be an ostrich on this issue. My people have suffered so much from this incident,” he added.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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