KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing personally flew to the headwaters of Sungai Mengiong on Aug 27 to investigate the source of the wood debris that caused the recent logjam in Batang Baleh.
“The loggers who salvaged the logs on behalf of the concessionaires, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), and they did on one of the most difficult terrains in the headwaters of Batang Baleh.
“They are trying to extract the commercial timber (in the areas) before the impoundment begins in 2026. The logs in the area to be flooded by the dam is estimated to be worth about RM300 million. The area where logging is taking place will be underwater in five years’ time,” he said.
Masing further noted that the heavy rain in upper Baleh last week did not help in reducing the erosion.
“So what this means is that the wood debris has nothing to do with shifting cultivation or the construction of Baleh Hydroelectric Power (HEP) dam.
“Baleh Dam is the victim and not the cause of the wood debris! Now we know the cause, let us stop the blame game and move forward and get the commercial timber out before they are submerged including other timber of value like belian if they are found in Ulu Batang Baleh,” he said.
Masing further revealed that the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had suggested forming a body to find ways and means to get timber out without causing devastating impacts on the environment.
“So I suggested that the body cannot be from the Forestry Department alone because it simply will not work.
“You hog to be a judge, jury and also prosecutor. Hence, a third party must be involved,” he added.