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BENTONG, Jan 10, 2016:

A non-governmental body has claimed logging, the main cause of mud floods at 52.4 km of the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway on Nov 11, is still being rampantly carried out in the Lentang Permanent Forest Reserve.

The Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said, despite the denials of logging in the area by numerous quarters last year, Peka had strong evidence that logging activities there were becoming more serious.

To prove this, Peka with several media agencies including Bernama, checked the areas involved, and the result was shocking.Signs showed that intrusions into the forest were still taking place.

Many timber stumps, which were believed to have been felled last month, were found 3km into the forest along a laterite road close to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bukit Tinggi.

Among trees cut down included the red Chengal and Meranti commercial species, highly valued in the market, she said.

A check also revealed several sign boards showing a notice of the expiry of a logging licence last year.

Most shockingly, there was a sign board on a new project, namely, a proposal to build a mini hydro-electric station at Sungai Benus there.

According to Section 32 of the National Forestry Act 1924, any occupation or activity in a permanent forest reserve is forbidden, and if breached, could entail a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or jail of not more than five years or both.

Worse, the flow of river tributaries were blocked to build logging bridges believed to be for transporting out the timber from the forest, she added.

The Lentang Forest Reserve is a special place as it is a catchment area with many waterfalls and rivulets, said Shariffa Sabrina.

“A very sad sight indeed when forest trees and timber are arbitrarily felled including at river buffer zones.

“So, Peka has answered the questions pertaining to mud floods on the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway.

“We hope the state government will give prompt attention to this matter to avoid an even worse incident,” she said.

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