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Lata Bukit Hijau loses its allure


SAD: Number of visitors to recreational forest has dwindled since early this year

BALING: IT used to be a favourite spot for picnickers. But the number of visitors to Lata Bukit Hijau, about 100km from here, has dwindled since early this year.

The reason? Poor maintenance of public amenities at the recreational forest.

Acting on complaints, Streets visited the lush green forest, which houses a man-made seven-level cascading waterfalls, and found the facilities in a state of disrepair.

The main building, which houses the toilets and a resting area, has given way to the elements.

A check on the structure showed many electrical fixtures have been forcefully removed, believed to be the work of drug addicts.

The wooden walls of the building too have been destroyed, with some parts left with gaping holes, indicating that the place has been broken into several times.

Ulu Tawar and Padang Belon village security and development committee member Hussin Salleh, 63, said the main building started deteriorating three years ago when maintenance workers, hired by the Kedah Forestry Department, stopped servicing the area regularly.

"After some time, the workers failed to show up altogether.

"This is very sad and we really do not know what had happened," he said.

According to Hussin, besides the hundreds of picnickers who congregate at the "waterfall" on weekends and public holidays, the recreational forest is also popular with hikers.

"We have hikers from as far as Johor coming here. The forest is also very popular among university researchers and students."

Hussin said the visitors had also supported the petty traders in the village.

"All was well then. Most visitors helped to keep the place clean.

"Now, the place is in ruin. What a waste," he said.

It is learnt that the Kedah Forestry Department is reviewing several tenders to rebuild the recreational forest's main hall and other facilities in the area.

The Kedah Forestry Department, however, could not be reached for comment.

Villagers looking at the damaged furniture at one of the facilities in Lata Bukit Hijau. Pic by Safuri Kamarudin

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