Forest Department Sarawak to tighten measures to prevent future debris incidents

The accumulation of floating timber debris.

KUCHNG: The Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) will tighten monitoring measures to ensure that there is no recurrence of the floating wood debris incident at Batang Baleh and Batang Rajang in the future.

In a statement on Thursday (Aug 26), it stated that all the affected timber licensees and contractors were jointly responsible to clear and remove the debris.

“The incident has attracted a lot of attention from the public, and the state government is equally concerned about the impact, not only on the environment but also livelihood of the people along the river.

“Based on ground verification and aerial surveillance conducted by FDS on Aug 22 and other government agencies, the incident was caused by accumulation of wood debris at the Baleh Hydroelectric Project (HEP) dam site and then came out through diversion channel to enter the Rajang River.”

It added that a downpour on Aug 21 triggered the movement of the debris and the massive surface run-off.

“However, the situation has subsided after the rain stopped in the upper Baleh area.”

It said the state government had approved salvage logging activities since 2015 in the area that would be submerged for the purpose of Baleh HEP development.

“The approved salvage logging activities is subject to full compliance of harvesting rules and regulations.

“The state government has decided to set up a special task force committee led by Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources consisting of various government department and agencies, including other stakeholders.

“The committee shall conduct thorough investigation on the incident and to find solution to mitigate the issues.”

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