Perak Orang Asli claim water source polluted by state-owned quarry

Ili Aqilah
Published:  Jan 19, 2024 4:00 PM
Updated: 4:00 PM

A state-owned quarry project is allegedly polluting the water source of an Orang Asli community in Pos Perwor in Sungai Siput, Perak, the locals claimed in a memorandum to the Perak menteri besar.

In their media statement today, the villagers of Kampung Kelatap also alleged that the quarry, owned by Perak’s MB Incorporated, was started without consulting the locals.

“As a result, we are faced with this disaster, which is a disruption of our water supply.

“The quarry project also fails to understand or respect our costumes and sensitivity, and goes against our human rights,” they said in the statement.

The quarry, which is in compartments 103, 106 and 107 of the Piah Forest Reserve, is located on their sacred land, they said.

The statement was issued after the group submitted its memorandum to Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad via the state secretariat today, urging him to put a stop to the quarry.

Some 60ha of the forest reserve – or the equivalent of 84 football fields – have been allocated for the project.

In their memorandum, the 15 Kampung Kelatap villagers said they had written to the MB’s office on Dec 8 but did not receive a reply.

The villagers also brought along a bottle of murky water, said to be from the river polluted by the quarry project.

The memorandum was received by a representative from the state secretariat office.

Malaysiakini has reached out to MB Inc and is awaiting a reply.

Resorting to alternate water sources

Sungai Siput Orang Asli coordinator Shazni Bhai, who represented the group, said the villagers had to seek alternate sources of clean water after the project began, believed to be in 2021.

“Things took a turn when the water became murky with a slightly foul smell even though there was no rain and the weather was humid.

“The Orang Asli then took the initiative to go to the site and that was when they saw the murky water.

“They also claimed that the foul smell could be due to waste from the workers’ quarters,” he told Malaysiakini.

He added that the quarry project representatives had only met with “one or two villagers” but did not get consent from the community.

“How can they just proceed with the project by consulting a small number of villagers and leave the rest in the dark?” he said.

On Nov 23, 2020, then-menteri besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu said three companies had received permits to develop 400ha in the Piah Forest Reserve, pending environmental impact assessment.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia adviser Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said although the law permits parts of forest reserves to be used for agriculture, mining, and logging, those activities can have an irreversible impact on the environment.

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