THE National Heritage Department wants Gunung Pulai to be spared from quarrying and have it declared a protected site.
Its stand against such projects is not based on sentiments, but on hard evidence that indicates that mining the mountain’s resources would wipe out its pre-historic fossils and artefacts that had been well preserved for some 500 million years.
It director-general, Mesran Mohd Yusop, in an email reply to the New Sunday Times, said the Environment Impact Assessment report that was prepared for the project had failed to include the compulsory Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).
“A HIA is a pre-requisite… it must be conducted if an area has archaeological, or intrinsic value in terms of heritage.
“The department has made clear the archeological, geological and heritage importance of Gunung Pulai that must be preserved.
“The department’s record and inventory show that the site (Gunung Pulai) is a critical national pre-historic archaeological site.
“This is based on Neolithic and Epipaleolithic stone tools, a bark cloth beater and earthenware that were found in several caves in a 1935 expedition of the mountain range.”
He said these findings could rewrite the country’s history concerning the presence of pre-historic communities, early human settlements and cultures.
Mesran expressed fears that if the quarrying was given the go-ahead, all the historical and archaeological artefacts evidence would be destroyed and the nation would lose a piece of its history and heritage.
An archaeological excavation study will be conducted to gather data and collate the findings to strengthen the case for preserving and protecting the site, he said.
This will be followed up with the process to declare it as a national heritage site.
“The proposed category for it could be an ‘Archaeological Heritage Site’ or a ‘Natural Heritage Site’,” Mesran said.