The Pahang Forestry Department (JPNP) has denied claims of illegal logging or land clearance at Sungai Telemong that caused the recent flash floods near Jalan Bentong-Karak and the Sri Telemong Bridge in Bentong.
This comes after several photos of mass wooden debris floating out of the river near Karak went viral on social media.
According to Bernama, JPNP had conducted site checks and aerial surveys using drones and found no indication of illegal logging activities at Lentang Forest Reserve, government land, and alienated land near where the debris appeared.
JPNP director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin also said that there was no indication of logging as trees and logs had no signs of being chopped.
The department suspects that the wood waste was uprooted and came from outside the forest reserve, carried by strong river currents caused by heavy rainfall.
“Heavy rain for three days since 16 December 2021 caused Sungai Kerau (also known locally as Sungai Telemong) to rise to an unusual level and resulted in a water surge phenomenon. The rising river water resulted in swift currents,”
“Since the fast flowing water was travelling downhill, it resulted in an extreme water column impact, which swept along wood debris, large trees, and even caused landslides.” Hizamri was quoted saying by NST.
The department also said that the Lentang Forest Reserve has been gazetted as a water catchment area since 2002, thus it is a protected forest and no logging activities have been allowed in the area.
With this, Hizamri said the public should not put the blame on the government as they have did their best to safeguard the environment and look into the needs of the community.
However, flood victims in Bentong were not convinced with the department’s reply as the evidence they had showed otherwise.
According to Kuantan Member of Parliament (MP) Fuziah Salleh, the logs that were floating out of the river near Karak indeed showed signs of being chopped, and this contradicts with the department’s response.
In the comment section of the Facebook post, netizens expressed their frustration towards the government and said that this is their “standard answer”.
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