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ALOR STAR, May 27 — The latest claim for damages filed by companies whose logging concessions in Kedah have been revoked now stands at RM1.5 billion, said Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor.
He said the claim previously stood at RM1 billion, involving about 40 companies with a total of 131 concessions and covering 22,098 hectares in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.
“We proposed to deal with this situation (damages claim) by considering offering alternate logging areas that are outside the catchment area. The replacement area should not have any environmental impact such as erosion and deforestation.
“The Forestry Department will take appropriate steps in accordance with the law and standard operating procedure (SOP). There are methods, suggestions and various processes to ensure that logging does not bring any negative impact on everyone,” he said after chairing the Exco Meeting at Wisma Darul Aman here today.
He was commenting on a news report yesterday which said that the state government would reopen the logging concession to avoid payment of the lawsuits filed by the logging company.
Muhammad Sanusi explained that the matter was merely a proposal, aimed at resolving the problem after the concession approval given to the logging company was cancelled by the state government, while the companies had paid the premiums.
It is understood that the total premium was RM228 million and out of this amount RM107.5 million had been settled by the logging company.
“If the matter reaches the court, to pay back almost RM200 million in claims will tough. (So) Whatever obstacles there are must be dealt with using all means available,” he said.
According to him, when faced with court action, the option is to pay the damages or consider replacing with alternate areas to the concessionaires.
The decision of the state government to freeze and stop logging in the catchment area was made at a meeting on Aug 30, 2018. — Bernama