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IPOH, Feb 6 — Ipoh’s iconic Kledang Hill is feared to have lost hundreds of trees to suspicious land clearing activities in recent weeks, despite being part of the Kledang-Saiong Forest Reserve.
According to Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, whose group organised a media visit to the location today, the land clearing increased significantly in the past month.
He said there are no notices announcing the purpose of the clearing in the 24ha zone and said the tree felling could cause mud floods during rainy season, aside from destroying the areas lushness.
Lorries and heavy machinery were spotted on the hill located along the Ipoh-Lumut highway near Taman Kledang Emas here during today’s visit.
“Based on the topography and geophysical of the hill, such land clearing can bring impact to the surrounding area, especially to the busy Ipoh-Lumut highway which is located near the foot of the hill,” he said.
Citing information he received from the Perak Survey and Mapping Department, he said the clearing activities were likely in preparation for farming or housing development.
“If it is really for a housing project, the question now is what kind of housing project it will be? Are the houses going to fulfil the need of the people or for the interest of certain individuals in order to gain profit,” he said.
However, he said the lack of information about the project invited suspicions that the clearing activity was illegal, especially as it was forest reserve land.
He said that projects with the needed planning permission would readily display the approvals they obtained from relevant authorities.
Meor then asked if the location has been stripped of its forest reserve status, saying this would be the only way that such massive land clearing would be legal.
“If the affected area did not convert to housing zone, then it is illegal to fell the trees there,” he said.
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam president Hafizudin Nasarudin, who was also present, said aerial photographs showed that the clearing was more severe than visible from ground level.
He asserted that those responsible have even forged a path all the way to the border with the main forest reserve
“This suggests that the land clearing activity could continue further inside the forest,” he said.
When contacted, Perak Forestry Department director Datuk Mohamed Zin Yusop said Mentri Besar Incorporated (MB Inc) owned the parcel that he said and it has been degazetted as part of the forest reserve.
Malay Mail has contacted MB Inc for comment.