KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will be compelling all bauxite operators in Pahang to fill up and fence up disused bauxite mining ponds as well as install warning signboards around the areas.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the move was being taken in the wake of the incident where three children drowned in a disused bauxite mining pond in Taman Sungai Karang Jaya near Kuantan yesterday.
“I hope the mine operators will see that these steps are taken while the ministry seeks a way to compel all mine operators to fulfil these requirements in future,” he said in a statement here today.
Wan Junaidi said he had also directed the Mineral and Geoscience Department director-general to check on all disused mines in Kuantan to ensure that the necessary actions were immediately taken.
He said the ministry viewed the tragedy seriously and hoped that those responsible including mine developers would take immediate action as instructed by the Regent of Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Earlier, in Lundu, Sarawak, Wan Junaidi had said that it was important to identify all disused mining sites which were a potential danger to the local community.
He said it would not be easy to implement the preventive measures as not all sites were on government property as some were located on land owned by an individual or company.
Wan Junaidi was speaking to reporters after visiting the media centre for the Tanjong Datu by-election at the Lundu District Council Training Room.
In Kuantan, residents of Taman Sungai Karang Jaya expressed disappointment with the authorities concerned for not taking heed of their plight to discontinue bauxite mining activities there, as the site was close to the housing estate.
They said their protests were completely ignored until the federal government imposed a moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang at the beginning of last year.
Their spokesman Tengku Sharizal Tengku Zahari, who has been living in the area since 2006, said he hoped that quick action would be taken to fill up the disused mining pools to prevent further loss of lives.
Meanwhile, a check by Bernama today saw a crowd of curious onlookers at the scene of the tragedy following the wide media coverage on it.
Yesterday, in an attempt to retrieve a pair of pants which had fallen into the disused mining pool, three children including two siblings drowned in the pool.
The victims were siblings Salsabila Zuhairi, 12, Mahathir Mohamad, seven, and their friend, Nureen Ain Juwita Mohd Sharif, 10. — Bernama