No new approvals, just new area to replace risky forest plantation project approved earlier in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve, says Sanusi

ALOR SETAR, July 11- Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the excessive approvals given for forest agricultural projects in the past could now pose legal challenges to the state if they are to be simply cancelled upon discovery that they were unsuited and presented risks for both the environment and people living near the areas.

In a press conference Wednesday aired live via Facebook, he said as the projects approved earlier cannot be cancelled, the Kedah government had to find new areas for the projects.

Asked if new approvals had been given by the state amid recent news reports that raised concerns on ongoing tree felling activities at the Gunung Bongsu Forest Reserve in Kulim, believed to be for logging routes and plantation projects, the Menteri Besar said they were no new project approvals as such but only replacement where an area was found to be unsuitable for a project.

For instance, the earlier approval for a forest plantation project in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve had to be cancelled and a new area was designated, he said.

He also said some of these forest plantation projects had not indicated future problems and that problems cropped up only later and hence they had to be stopped and new areas had to designated for the affected projects. He did not mention if any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or risk report had been there for these projects before approval.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the state executive council meeting on Wednesday, also said a check with the Kedah Forestry Department, would show a new approval for plantation project, “but it is to replace the forest plantation project in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.” 

Muhammad Sanusi said the state may now look at redesignating new areas for forest plantation projects found to be risky, and that it would discuss with the related companies to cancel approvals in these areas and designate new ones.