Kedah seeks compensation after stopping logging in Ulu Muda forest

Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir says the state has raised the compensation issue at the National Finance Council Meeting. (Bernama pic)

ALOR SETAR: Kedah is hoping that the federal government will compensate the losses that the state government had to bear after stopping logging activities in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve since last year.

Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir said the state government had raised the compensation payment at the National Finance Council Meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Prior to this, before the meeting, we had written a letter to the federal government to seek clarification on the allocation provided through Budget 2019 pertaining to compensation to states that made the decision to stop or reduce logging activities to maintain the water supply.

“Therefore, we hope the federal government will consider the Kedah government’s request because there is an allocation for that and Kedah very much needs it,” he said when met at the Suka Menanti state assembly Aidilfitri celebration here today.

Mukhriz, however, said the state government did not fix any amount for the financial reimbursement but is ready to make suggestions to the federal government for consideration.

“We stopped all logging activities at the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve. We hope whatever losses borne by the state government will be compensated by the federal government,” he said.

In March, Mukhriz was reported as saying the state government is committed to conserving the natural treasures of the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve despite losing substantial revenue from the forests and its resources since the revocation of logging permits in Ulu Muda.

In another development, he also welcomed the proposal by the water, land and natural resources ministry to issue guidelines on the jurisdiction of state governments in managing forests in their own states.

He added the state government was always concerned about environmental sustainability as forests are water catchment areas.

“But we need to refine the guidelines. We also want to understand what is allowed and what is disallowed,” he added.

Yesterday, the minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said his ministry would propose amendments to the National Forestry Act 1984 to enable the guidelines that touch on the issuing of logging licences and gazetting of forests to be part of the Act.