SHAH ALAM, Oct 25 – Can the Selangor Forest Department award a single company director two separate licenses to operate two different quarry sites under two different companies that he owns?
This is the latest poser from Otai Reformasi Secretary Abdul Razak, who has been questioning the Selangor state government and the forest department the past few weeks over the awarding of contracts to 27 companies to run operate quarry sites in the Bukit Lagong forest reserve area in the state.
According to Abdul Razak, a search in the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) has revealed that a company director had received two contracts to operate two different quarry sites totalling 200 acres in Bukit Lagong under two different companies that he owns.
Razak, who has been raising the issue of deforestation and the loss of primary rain forest in the forest reserve area, has also raised questions on the lack of transparency and information on the awarding of contracts to operate the quarries in Bukit Lagong.
In September, the Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP) revealed that nearly 4,000 hectares of forests in the state of Selangor were under threat with several development plans by the state.
These included a proposed agriculture park in a peat swamp forest, new licenses for quarry operations and deforestation of sensitive areas for property development and sales of forest land.
This had riled up many activists, who claimed that the state’s earlier pledges to protect the forests and environment, have become highly questionable.
These plans cover Bukit Lagong and other districts of Selangor from Sabak Bernam, Selayang, Ampang, Kuang, Sungai Buloh, Serendah, South Kuala Langat Forest areas to Genting Highlands.
The activists also said the report was a reflection of the growing failure of the state to fulfill the pledges of deforestation and that under the Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat).
Questions were also raised on the conflicting stand of the state, as quarrying would involve clearing the forest but the state has a moratorium on logging.
In its report published Sept 14, the RDP authors said the primary threats to Selangor’s forests included projects already known to the public and new data sighted by the RDP.
In its report, RDP also highlighted the plans for quarries in the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve.
“During investigations into the sale of land within Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve, the RDP sighted this “Pelan Kawasan Kuari”, published by the Selangor State Forest Department, on a listing on EdgeProp. This plan shows that a significant portion of the forest reserve appears to have been parcelled out to private companies for quarrying. Using georeferencing, we have identified that the portion of area in question that is still forested is roughly 887ha in size.
“Using satellite analysis, we have found that this forested area is still an intact, high quality forest which has not seen any degradation since before 1985. Furthermore, the quarry areas are less than 1km from two Orang Asli villages (Hulu Kuang and Sungai Buloh) and it could potentially impact their customary land rights as well (see appendix).
“We are unaware of any environmental impact assessments done for these quarries, except for the parcel owned by The Greatest EcoPark Holding Sdn Bhd (40ha).”
According to the report, it was also the first time that the quarry plan had been released to the public, indicating a total lack of transparency on the part of the Forestry Department.
Under Global Forest Watch, the area sequesters 1692t of CO2 per year.
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