More than 100 residents from five villages in and around Pelangai urged the government to stop logging activities at the Sungai Gapoi forest immediately as such activities would affect the water source of the 5,000 villagers in the area.
The forest, which serves as a water catchment area for the Sungai Gapoi water treatment plant, would be polluted by logging activities in the area.
Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) chairperson for Kampung Orang Asli Ulu Semie, Hihang Atong, 52, said 56 families living in the area solely depended on water from mountain in the forest for their daily use.
"Five or six rivers flow through the area, especially to the Sungai Gapoi water treatment plant and supply water source for thousands of families in Pelangai.
"Imagine what will happen to the families if logging activities are allowed in the area. Water source for these families will certainly be affected," he told reporters in Bentong today.
He said the most alarming issue was that the Orang Asli community would not be able to go about their daily routine like looking for food, herbs and other source of income.
Hihang said he was informed that the forest was being intruded to turn the area into a plantation involving 404ha.
Meanwhile, a check by Bernama revealed that preparations for logging activities was in progress and work on roads or logging tracks for about three kilometres from Kampung Orang Asli, Ulu Semie.
Two excavators were seen leaving the village after realising the villagers were about to stage a protest today.
Though minor activities had taken place in the area, it has already affected the quality of the water in Sungai Shafie near the Orang Asli settlement, raising concern among the villages.
"We urge the government to stop any kind of activities in the Sungai Gapoi forest. I have lived here since I was three and seen a lot of damage to the natural environment," said Lee Ah Kow, 70.
Pertubuhan Perlindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said the time has come for the Pahang state government to stop issuing logging licence at water catchment areas or forest reserve.
"This is in line with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's announcement when tabling the 2017 Budget last week that forest reserve and water catchment areas must be free from any sort of activities so as to preserve
"The protest from villagers shows that they are not happy with such activities," she said.
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