JITRA: The Kedah state government is ready to have discussions with neighbouring states about logging in Ulu Muda, Sik, in an effort to protect the area and retain it as a common water catchment area.
Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir said the discussion would also include a request for compensation from the federal government in lieu of forest premiums, as Kedah lacked sustainable income sources such as oil and gas, compared to other states.
“Water is a huge asset to Kedah and we will make sure the supply is adequate as it is not only for the Kedahans but also for those in Penang and Perlis… We can sit down and discuss the matter, we know where the logging problem is and I do think Kedah can resolve the issue.
“Secondly, on the compensation matter, from my meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (on Saturday) he was prepared to give due attention to the state government’s request because he understands we have already sacrificed by contributing to the national rice production,” he told reporters.
Mukhriz said the state government would also ask for federal grants to develop the water supply infrastructure into the interior of Kedah, and on to Penang and Perlis.
“What we received before was in the form of loans that burden the state government. Our debt to the federal government for the development of water infrastructure has already reached more than RM2 billion.
“This is one of the matters that we want to negotiate with the federal government to eliminate most of the state’s debts that we view as reasonable and not to further burden the Kedah government,” he said.
Yesterday, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow called for talks with Kedah and the federal governments about logging in Ulu Muda and the threat to the catchment area at the Muda Dam.
He said the water catchment area in Ulu Muda was shrinking and he was worried that the three states would face the risk of water crisis in the future.