PETALING JAYA: A forest plantation project atop a hill in Baling alleged to be the cause of floods last weekend had been given approval to plant rubber trees but not for durians, the environment department said today.
It said the plantation was given environmental approval in 2013 for a forest plantation not exceeding 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) as pollution prevention, mitigation and control measures were found to be adequate.
The approval was for logging and replanting, felling for planting latex timber clone and forest development of a mono-crop forest plantation for rubber wood and latex, the director-general of environment, Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar, said in a statement posted on Facebook.
However, the department found in March 2021 that durian trees had been planted instead of “timber latex clone” – rubber trees grown for both timber and rubber – and two other log varieties.
The department sent a compliance notice that month, it said. However, the department did not specify what orders were given to the plantation project owners.
He said the project was to be implemented by Menteri Besar Kedah Incorporated and JV Kedah Agro Plantation Sdn Bhd at the early stage, and by Aman Mega Sdn Bhd.
At the department’s most recent enforcement check on May 24, “we found no active logging or replanting of seedlings on the site”.
“There were also no active logging or replanting activities during the movement control order period to date as such activities were not approved. However, cover crops were planted over the exposed areas,” he said.
Wan Abdul Latiff said the department would continue to monitor activity on the hill to ensure environmental laws are adhered to.
Several villages in the Kupang area in Baling were hit by flash floods following continuous rain on Monday, causing Sungai Kupang to overflow. As a result, seven houses were washed away and about 70 others were damaged. Over 1,000 people were displaced.