GEORGE TOWN: Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa has reiterated the need for Ulu Muda Forest Reserve (UMFR) to be gazetted as a water catchment area.
He said although the Kedah government has halted all logging activities in the area by revoking permits and suspending new ones, extra measures needed to be taken to ensure protection of the area.
Currently, UMFR has been gazetted for ‘timber production’, indicating possibility of logging activities taking place in the area in the near future.
“We appreciate that (the Kedah government) has put a stop to logging activities, but the area must be gazetted as water catchment area so that it can be protected.
“Currently, 74 per cent of it has been gazetted as timber production area. So, it (logging) can happen again.
"By gazetting it as water catchment area, this at least can guarantee that UMFR will be preserved,” he told newmen after delivering a speech at the Water Supply Sustainability for Penang talk here today.
On whether PBAPP was planning to send letters to highlight the issue to the state government, Jaseni said the corporation had issued 15 press statements on the matter in recent years.
“The answers are all there... We had even explained why Kedah needs to be compensated.
“If Ulu Muda is not protected, the livelihood of four million people will be affected. Also, some RM115 billion worth of economic activities will be affected, that is 10 per cent of Malaysia’s GDP (gross domestic product).
“This must not be allowed to drag on as the situation can turn into a crisis,” he added.
The UMFR covers about 106,418ha. The previous Kedah government had constantly maintained that the state-sanctioned logging was under control and did not affect water supply.
Last month, however, the current state government revoked logging permits at the area with immediate effect.
Ulu Muda provides 96 per cent of raw water in Kedah, including in Langkawi; 70 per cent of raw water in Perlis; and more than 80 per cent of the raw water in Penang.