Penang wants federal govt to establish Ulu Muda Basin Authority

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has told the federal government to consider setting up the Ulu Muda Basin Authority to ensure an agency to control and manage water resources in Ulu Muda, Kedah.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the proposal had been raised several times by the Penang government and Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) with the federal government in the past.

He said the water catchment area in Ulu Muda needs to be managed professionally as it is an important catchment area to channel raw water supply to three states namely Perlis, Kedah and Penang.

"This is the reason why the state government, including PBAPP, have for the past few years proposed the establishment of the Ulu Muda Basin Authority so that there is an agency to control the water source in Ulu Muda because it is a source of water for three states.

"It is also to ensure that the water catchment area can be protected from activities that can affect the ecosystem in the river basin.

"As such, the federal government needs to intervene because we have raised this matter many times in front of the minister in charge," he said today.

He was met after the launch of the One Million Tree Planting Programme in a Day in conjunction with Earth Day on April 22 which was graced by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak at Anjung Seri Mutiara, here, today.

Present was Media Prima Group chairman, Datuk Seri Dr Syed Hussain Syed Aljunid.

Chow was asked to comment on RimbaWatch's claim that logging in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve caused Tasik Muda — the main water source for consumers in Penang and Kedah -– to have siltation to form and become polluted.

A study conducted through satellite image monitoring found that Tasik Muda started collecting silt deposits since March last year and the deposits were found to be growing in October last year.

The problem is expected to affect about 80 per cent of the water source to Penang which depends entirely on the supply from the Ulu Muda catchment area that flows through Sungai Muda.

Elaborating, Chow said since the last five years, he had met with three ministers responsible for water and two menteris besar to discuss the issue and it was also discussed in many meetings and forums in Putrajaya or at the national level attended by the menteri besar and the chief minister.

"That is the forum that we raised and it is not a (new) issue. It has been highlighted before. It is just that there is a lack of 'political will' to take action so that this issue can become national policy.

"Obviously, if the Ulu Muda Basin Authority is established, then I believe that one of the actions that need to be taken is to prohibit forest logging in the area which will affect the income of certain states," he added.

Asked on the state government and PBAPP's preparations if the silt deposit worsens to the point of affecting the water in Ulu Muda, Chow hopes it would not happen.

"Otherwise, it will have a huge impact on the water distribution system in Penang," he said.

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