KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13, 2015:
Cameron Highlands residents are advised to stay alert despite an assurance by district officer Datuk A. Rahman Hamzah that flash floods in Bertam Valley were not likely to happen.
Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy said residents who lived in low-lying areas, such as those in Bertam Valley, must be prepared to evacuate their homes, as the region braced for a rainy spell.
He said there was a serious risk of flash floods despite the flood mitigation project in Cameron Highlands, which was expected to be completed in May next year.
“We are particularly worried that the flood mitigation project will be easily undone by heavy siltation from soil erosion, as mud will fill up the river beds in no time.
“In the case of Bertam River, this is a serious concern as the Sultan Abu Bakar Dam (Empangan Sultan Abu Bakar) upstream is heavily silted.
“Presently, more than 200 tonnes of soil per hectare are lost each year in Cameron Highlands mainly due to excessive forest clearing,” he toldThe Rakyat Post.
Ramasamy said the district officer needed to face up to the seriousness of the erosion problem as it could prove fatal.
Rahman had previously told reporters that despite the flood mitigation project still under construction, it was currently sufficient to accommodate excess rainwater during any abnormal downpour as the Bertam River was now wider.
Ramasamy noted that even the Drainage and Irrigation Department had not dared to issue such a statement.
At the same time, he also pointed out that there had been flash floods in other towns as well, such as Kampung Raja.
“Flash floods are happening even if it rains for just several hours, each time with muddy water, which indicates that soil is being carried along with the water.
“These are signs that worse things may happen, such as landslides, especially in areas with steep slopes, if the rain is prolonged.
“And it has been raining a lot even before the monsoon season, which is between November and February.”
Ramasamy cautioned that the flood problem in Cameron Highlands could only be solved by engaging all stakeholders, and would require a change in mentality of the people.