PUTRAJAYA: The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the proposed forest plantation in Gunung Inas, Baling, Kedah was approved after the EIA Technical Review Committee meeting found that pollution prevention, mitigation and control measures were adequate.

Environment director-general Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar said the report titled “Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment for the Development of Forest Plantation in Gunung Inas Forest Reserved Mukim Bakai, Kupang and Pulai, District of Baling, Kedah Darul Aman” was approved on July 25, 2013.

“The committee comprises agencies at the federal and state levels as well as experts in the prescribed fields,” he said in a statement today.

Among the agencies involved were the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia, Kedah Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Kedah Economic Planning Unit and Kedah Forestry Department.

Wan Abdul Latiff said the approved project’s concept was the development of forest plantation with an area not exceeding 5,000 hectares with three components.

They are logging and silviculture (replanting of existing timber or plant species), felling for the purpose of planting latex timber clone and forest development which consist of mono-crop forest plantation for the production of rubber wood and latex.

He said the proposed project was implemented by Menteri Besar Kedah Incorporated project proponent, JV Kedah Agro Plantation Sdn Bhd at the early stage and was later changed to Aman Mega Sdn Bhd.

“Based on DOE’s (Department of Environment) investigation, a notice of instruction was issued on March 10, 2021 to the project proponent as there were changes to the original concept, whereby the site was planted with durian trees and not latex timber clone,” he said.

Wan Abdul Latiff said the latest inspection by Kedah DOE on May 24 found that there was no replanting of tree seedlings carried out in Compartment 8, Gunung Inas Forest Reserve, Baling.

“There were also no active logging or replanting activities during the Movement Control Order period to date as such activities were not approved by the International Trade and Industry Ministry. However, cover crops were planted over the exposed areas,” he said.

Wan Abdul Latiff said he had instructed Kedah DOE to continue to conduct regular monitoring and enforcement operations to ensure any development activities in the state comply with environmental laws and for all project proponents to adhere to EIA conditions of approval and laws in force.

On Monday, the floods and water surge phenomenon affected 12 villages in Baling, namely Kampung Iboi, Kampung Lata Celak, Kampung Padang Empang, Kampung Bukit Iboi, Kampung Masjid Iboi, Kampung Bendang Padang, Kampung Bendang Bechah, Kampung Tok Saba, Kampung Hangus, Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Kampung Pisang Clinic and Kampung Sadik.

Three members of a family aged between 14 and 53, including a pregnant woman, were killed in the floods when their house in Kampung Iboi was swept by the current. — Bernama