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Malaysia environmental coalition slams legal action taken against them by Selangor State agro corp

By New Straits Times Mon, September 6, 2021

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The Coalition for the Protection of Selangor Forests (CPSF) has called out the Selangor State Agriculture Corporation (PKPS) for taking legal action against them over issues surrounding the gazetting of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR). - NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Coalition for the Protection of Selangor Forests (CPSF) has called out the Selangor State Agriculture Corporation (PKPS) for taking legal action against them over issues surrounding the gazetting of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR).

In a statement today, CPSF said PKPS had taken legal action against it over a statement the coalition made yesterday related to the clearance of the 308ha peat swamp forest by PKPS, which was recently gazetted to replace KLNFR.

The coalition said it would stand by the facts that it had included in its earlier statement which was based on credible site monitoring, assessment and analysis over the past two years by its members.

“In the Sept 5, 2021 statement, the coalition called on the state government to revoke the degazettement of 536.7ha of KLNFR undertaken on Aug 12, 2021.

“In this statement, it also highlighted that the state had gazetted a new forest reserve (Sungai Panjang Forest Reserve) in Sabak Bernam on the same date, supposedly to replace the degazetted area with a forest of equal or better quality.

“Our statement mentioned that this new forest reserve was also facing problems, in that part of the area had been cleared by a PKPS contractor in 2014 as well as further clearance by PKPS in early 2021.

“We also mentioned that the Department of Environment (DOE) had issued a stop work order to PKPS on April 8 2021 as it had failed to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to clearing the forest.

“This is a serious offence,” the statement read.

Among members of the coalition are Global Environment Centre (GEC), Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia (Grass Malaysia) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).

The coalition said it was not accusing PKPS of degazetting or destroying KLNFR as it was the state government that has degazetted KLNFR.

CPSF claimed that the state government had attempted to “compensate” by gazetting a piece of land that PKPS was in the process of applying for development to turn it into a new forest reserve.

The coalition stressed that it was merely reporting facts which among others said that PKPS was issued with a Stop Work Order by the Environment Department (DoE) after the corporation had allegedly committed an offence by not first acquiring an approved EIA report.

The group said had PKPS followed the law and waited for approval before clearing the forest, it could have had been saved from further damage.

According to CPSF, despite the stop work order, PKPS had continued to clear the forests within the site and other related sites in Sungai Panjang.

“We understand from DoE that they recently had to take further action to seal the site and excavators belonging to the contractor of PKPS.

“In its statement today, PKPS claims that encroachment has been done by other stakeholders in the past.

“They also state that they were authorised in May 2021 by DoE to undertake work such as to develop erosion control measures as well as blocking of drainage in the peatland to minimise the damage from their earlier clearing.

“However, PKPS and its contractors have been the only ones reportedly working at the site and the main work undertaken appears to have been forest clearance and log removal.”

CPSF also debunked the allegation by PKPS that the coalition had failed to make attempts to reach the corporation or the Selangor government for further clarification.

The group said its members had sent letters to PKPS and the state government since January 2020 to seek a meeting or clarification on the matter.

“One meeting was held in July 2020 in which PKPS indicated that it was not going to proceed with the development (originally planned as an oil palm plantation), as DoE and the Primary Industries Ministry indicated it was not in line with the government policy.

“Subsequently, coalition members learned that the new management of PKPS had repackaged and revived the project in early 2021.

“Coalition members wrote again in March 2021 to the state government and PKPS to seek clarification – but no direct response was received and PKPS proceeded with land clearing and launching of the project in late March 2021. Subsequently, DoE issued a Stop Work Order in April 2021, as no EIA had been prepared.

“We have been asking for a meeting with the PKPS chairman for nearly two years to discuss this matter and hope that this can be arranged as soon as possible.”

SOURCE – New Straits Times, Malaysia Mon, September 6, 2021

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