Telemong River Debris: Establish task force to investigate Pahang Forestry Dept

02 Jan 2022 06:53pm
Alleged forest areas have been cleared for logging in Bentong logging (left), while Mohd Shukri on the right showing a pile of log waste when he went to the flood location in Kampung Telemong.
Alleged forest areas have been cleared for logging in Bentong logging (left), while Mohd Shukri on the right showing a pile of log waste when he went to the flood location in Kampung Telemong.

KUANTAN - The federal government needs to establish a special committee to probe the Pahang Forestry Department over claims that there are no logging activities happening in the forests of Bentong, Pahang.

Community activist Mohd Shukri Ramai said this was to ensure the investigation process were carried transparently and had no conflicts of interest.

He said people refuse to believe that there were no logging activities in the Bentong forest following the wood waste found scattered at Jalan Bentong-Karak and Sri Telemong Bridge.

“We did aerial checks using Google maps and found that a lot of areas in the forest have been totally cleared, especially areas near the Kerau and Telemong river.

“We believe the mud flood incident and surge of logging waste seen in viral photos is the effect of logging activities, both legal and illegal ones.

“This is why we question the department’s statement made on Thursday.“With that, we demand a special task force be established immediately at the federal level via the Environment and Water Ministry as well as non-governmental organisations in Pahang to ensure a detailed investigation can be carried out on the tragedy,” he told Sinar Harian on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ketari state assemblyman Young Syefura Othman also demanded a need for a comprehensive investigation on the incident.

She said Malaysians affected by the floods did not deserve this and had rights to demand for justice.

On Thursday, the state forestry department said no logging activities, be it legal or illegal were being carried out in Simpang Lentang Forest, Bentong.

Previously, the Pahang State Forestry Department (JPNP) confirmed that there were no legal or illegal logging activities in the Lentang Forest Reserve (HS), government lands and owned lands near Jalan Bentong-Karak and Sri Telemong Bridge in Bentong.

Its director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin a huge water surge phenomenon along Sungai Kerau near Karak had triggered the wood debris and log slides to be swept towards the two locations; Sri Telemong bridge at Jalan Karak-Pelangai.

He was quoted saying heavy rain for three days since Dec 16 caused the Sungai Kerau water to rise to an unusual level and resulted in the water surge phenomenon, which resulted in swift currents.

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He had stated that the fast flowing water was traveling downhill, resulting in an extreme water column (kepala air) impact which swept along wood debris, large trees and even caused landslides.

Hizamri, who went to inspect the affected site at Kampung Telemong Dec 29, added that an aerial surveillance was carried out using drones and did not find any land clearing activities at the Lentang Forest Reserve.

Young Syefura, later that day posted on Twitter saying "No logging activity was detected but logs debris were all over the place. Timber trucks continues to go in and out of the area".

When asked if it was referring to the Department's statement, she said it was just a random post by her. She said she was voicing out her curiosity just like other Internet users.

"We noticed that they are also wondering about the same thing, if there is no logging activity, how can there be a lot of timber debris stranded in flooded areas," she said.