Orang Asli get water scare after quarry opens in forest reserve

One of the villagers in Sungai Buloh holding a bottle of polluted water.

SUNGAI BULOH: Orang Asli villagers here have voiced their concern over their hill water supply being polluted by illegal quarry operators in forest reserves.

Sungai Buloh Orang Asli Village Management Committee president Hanim Apeng said their water supply from a river was just fine all these years until a new quarry operator came in recently.

“We know seven quarries were operating in the state forest reserve land in Bukit Lagong before this but our water suddenly turned murky after the new operator came in.

“How can we live with the dirty water that is coming out of the pipes? How can we use or drink it?”

Sungai Buloh Orang Asli Village Management Committee president Hanim Apeng .

She questioned why the quarry operators were allowed to carry out their activities in a forest reserve.

Hanim said three Orang Asli villages located nearby had been affected by the quarry works at Bukit Lagong, namely Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Lagong, Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Kuang and Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Buloh.

The quarries are not far from the villages and the residents can hear the quarry-blasting on the hill, about an hour’s walk from their homes.

She said one of the quarry operators had recently offered the Orang Asli water filters.

“Why are they offering to install these water filters at our homes? They must know their quarry activities is affecting the quality of water.”

A quarry operating in forest reserve land in Bukit Lagong, Sungai Buloh.

Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil, who is president of Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka), said she was not against development but it must not harm the environment.

She said it was suspicious how the new quarry operator could get approval to operate if the activities harmed the environment.

“If the operator has a permit, why is the quarry damaging the environment?

“All these years, the villagers have had no problems with the water. But, suddenly, the water is dirty after the new quarry opened.”

She urged the state government to look into the matter quickly and act fast before more damage is done to the forest reserve.