KUALA TERENGGANU: Logging activities in Hulu Terengganu forest reserve near Kemat have turned the once pristine Sungai Lasir into a muddy river that houseboat operators in Tasik Kenyir no longer recommended as an attraction.
The change took place about a month ago, with boatmen increasingly avoided Sungai Lasir to hide the damaged environment from visitors.
The greater fear is that the logging activities may have also affected the popular Kelah Sanctuary at Sungai Petang and the spawning areas along the river.
Mohd Salleh Hamid, a houseboat operator said the muddy and murky waters in Sungai Lasir were no longer suitable for bathing and for other recreational activities.
“Houseboat operators have been avoiding Sungai Lasir since last month. It is muddy, not safe and has become an eyesore for visitors.
“We do not want to bring visitors to the river because it may give a blanket negative impression on Tasik Kenyir. It will affect our operations,” he said.
Salleh, who is also a committee member of the Tasik Kenyir Tourist Association, added that the threat of pollution at the Kelah Sanctuary was evident when logging started at the upper reaches of Sungai Petang.
“Houseboat operators depended on the attractions at the Kelah Sanctuary for a living. It is the main attraction in Tasik Kenyir besides Sungai Lasir.
“We hope the State government will halt logging activity in the Kemat area. We are also asking the Forestry Department to review the concession,” he added.
Salleh said he was informed that the Department of Environment and villagers would visit Sungai Lasir next week to assess the damage.
The Forestry Department could not be reached for comments.
However, reliable sources said several logging concessionaires have been issued licences to operate in the area.
“It is a big area and the logging tracks cross several river which explains the muddy water,” sources added.