PETALING JAYA: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has objected to the recently approved mining project near Tasik Chini in Pekan.
The ecosystem of Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas have been exploited and destroyed over the past few decades, it said in calling for the Pahang state government to restore Tasik Chini to its heydays.
“The exploitation and destruction of Tasik Chini began when a small weir was built on Sungai Chini in 1995. Since then, from time to time, Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas were threatened by various activities, especially logging, mining and agriculture,” SAM president Meenakshi Raman said in a statement today.
“The construction of the weir and the environmentally destructive activities have not only impacted the natural ecosystem and environmental quality of Tasik Chini and its surroundings but have also affected the lives and socio-economy of the people living in the vicinity of Tasik Chini especially the Orang Asli community.”
SAM and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Villages Network (JKOASM) and the Felda Chini Smallholders Network (CISNET) had submitted various complaints to the state government and related agencies but to no avail.
In addition, over the years SAM had also taken initiatives and measures to save Tasik Chini by holding meetings with the local communities, conducting discussions with stakeholders, field surveys and holding press conferences.
“We understand that in 2012, the Orang Asli community of Tasik Chini had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of Malaysia to stop all activities that could destroy Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas,” Meenakshi said.
“Now SAM is reiterating its call to the Pahang state government for immediate action to be taken to save Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas.
“Among the actions that need to be taken immediately is halt all mining activities here and the weir that has affected the natural ecosystem of Tasik Chini must be demolished.”
SAM also urged the state government to gazette the entire Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas as protected area as it an environmentally sensitive area.
In addition, the government must officially recognize Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas as traditional territory of the Orang Asli community here, Meenakshi added.
“If the state government still does not commit to conserve and stop all activities that can destroy the natural ecosystem of Tasik Chini and its surrounding areas, including the latest mining proposal, the declaration of Tasik Chini as a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) may be in jeopardy,” she added.