It is not the first time Pahang has gone viral over pictures and videos that raise speculations on the State’s involvement in environmentally destructive activities. Mid-last year, Pahang made headlines when mining and logging activities threatened the Tasik Chini area.
During the recent flash floods, pictures of mass wooden debris floating out of the river near Karak had made the State go viral once again. The State, however, refuted the claim that the incident had anything to do with logging activities.
Recently, the Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (PEKA) President Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil posted several videos showing a road expansion project happening in Lata Jarum, Raub, Pahang.
In the video, she pointed out the murky water of Sungai Dong and some heavy machinery presented in the area.
“I’ve never seen the water of Sungai Dong turn that murky as if there’s a forest opening. I also don’t understand why they expand the road inside here, big – like highways,” she said in the video.
Shariffa told @Forest that the decision to expand the road in the area was unnecessary, and the forest office should focus on fixing and restoring the visitor facilities first.
“I want to ask where the fund for this project is coming from? If it’s from the Pahang Forestry Department, why don’t they prioritise repairing the facilities around Hutan Lipur Lata Jarum first? There are things such as picnic spots, sheds, toilet facilities (that need fixing).
“You should go and see it for yourself. These people keep saying I make fitnah (making up stories) as if I don’t have any better things to do,” said Shariffa.
Rafflesia is a sensitive creature
Rafflesia is one of the unique attractions in Lata Jarum Forest Eco Park. The rare species was sensitive, and tour guides often had to advise on the dos and don’ts to the visitors during the visit.
“There’s a place that looks like a ticket counter, and they put ‘batu kasaran’ (crusher run) to expand the road. Previously, there was only a walkway there. Now they have opened the road, and the soil is pushed into the river,” Shariffa said, sharing what she saw at the project area.
“They say they want to build a road (for people) to see Rafflesia. It is very unnecessary. Rafflesia cannot live near development, roads or people. The plant is susceptible. If there are developments or many people around, it cannot live.”
In response to Shariffa’s Facebook post dated Dec 28, 2021, the Raub District Forest Office issued a statement explaining that the office and technical support unit from Pahang Forestry Department had already looked into the said area in Lata Jarum Forest Eco Park, Raub.
The statement said the area in the video was part of the forest development project, involving the maintenance for the entrance to the area of High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) Rafflesia, Lata Jarum and other related works.
“This project aims to upgrade the existing badly damaged road, for the use of the department and visitors. Our investigation shows the cause of the murky water begins upstream of the river and not from the project area.
“The department also confirmed that this project did not involve deforestation, and no logging activities were happening upstream. The department will continue to monitor and ensure the project is done according to the specifications so it can be completed within the stipulated time frame for the comfort of the users.”
The Raub District Forest Office shared that according to specifications provided by the technical support unit, the road would be equipped with a side drain, cross drain, and paved with crusher run to prevent the direct flow of water to Sungai Dong. — @Forest