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Tasik Cini is dying due to a dam and lost of forests

Lake Chini in the olden day.

There is a hidden fact not reported in the NST.

The reserved forests in the buffer zone of Lake Chini were robbed and taken over by Felda and UMNO cronies for oil palm plantation and mining.

I first visited Lake Cini in 1986 during my Pan-Malaysia bicycle riding tour, the lotus plants with pink flowers were commonly found in the lake.

We lost in the jungle in the midst of heavy rain in the night during our journey to Lake Chini. Our luck was damn good, a Malay youth in a motorbike spotted us by chance. He was a student stayed in the same hostel with my friend and guided us to a not yet opened chalet. The guard allowed us to stay in the new chalet for free.

Another memorable event is I met a Malay young girl at the jetty to Lake Chini. She was about my age, she pointed to a 5 to 7 year boy and said the boy is her son during our conversation. My jaw dropped wide open! Actually she was married at the age of 13.

At 13, I was still played child games with my buddies. 🙂

A dam was built at the mouth of water channel several years later and the stupidity of Pahang government has caused severe ecological damages to the Lake’s fragile ecosystem.

ENVIRONMENT: Tasik Cini is dying
By Rejal Arbee, Kuala Lumpur

TASIK Cini, one of the only two natural lakes still around in the peninsula, is facing unmitigated pollution that could affect its status as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve unless the uncontrolled mining and other development being carried out in its vicinity are stopped or restrained.

Unfortunately nobody in authority seems to care, and unless something drastic is done, not only will that status be compromised, the lake, in fact, faces the possibility of being wiped off the map just as what happened to nearby Tasik Mentiga.

The director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Tasik Cini Research Centre, Prof Datuk Dr Mushrifah Idris, was among the earliest to express concern over what has been going on in the vicinity of the lake, which has affected work being carried out by the researchers.

The UKM news portal, as early as January this year, quoted her as saying that there was a need to preserve the lake and to carry out research there in light of the rapid development, including oil palm cultivation and mining.

She said not much research had been done on the country’s natural lakes, which have now dwindled to only two, the other being Tasik Bera also in Pahang.

“All the other natural lakes have already disappeared. Lakes also age. If it is a natural lake, it ages with time and the more it erodes, followed by sedimentation, the more it will become silted up if no effort is made to preserve them,” she said. At one time Tasik Cini was full of lotus plants (Nelumbo nucifera), which flowered between June and September. Now you can hardly see any.

Unfortunately her concern is not shared by many who are responsible and have the wherewithal to do something about it.

Recently, a group not known to champion environmentalism, Transparency International-Malaysia, has come up with a campaign called “Save TasikCini — National Heritage and Unesco Biosphere Reserve”.

Unfortunately, it seems to be going at it alone and is apportioning blame on the research centre rather than the local authority, which issued the mining permits.

It has not questioned why the various government agencies, including the departments of environment, forestry, irrigation and drainage, minerals and geoscience as well as the Pahang State Development Office are not monitoring the development and mining activities there.

The fact that no Environmental Impact Assessment report had been submitted to the authorities by the mining companies has also been ignored by the group.

It is not the centre which has given out these permits to the companies to carry out mining operations. The centre does not have the power to monitor what is going on in the area.

The centre was set up by UKM in 2008 to carry out research on the lake with a view to ensure its preservation.

Unfortunately following increased mining there, its work has been affected.

In 2010, the UKM Research Centre was given a tract of 125ha of barren land around it, which had been denuded of vegetation following logging, to be reforested.

The centre purchased 11,000 hard wood seedlings, 6,000 of which were planted.

The seedlings had grown to about a metre high when the mining companies came and bulldozed the trees in the middle of last year, saying they had been given permits by the local authorities to mine there.

And now Mushrifah is at a loss as to what she should do with the remaining 5,000 seedlings at the centre since the centre does not have land on which to plant them, except for some small tracts within the centre.

Read more: ENVIRONMENT: Tasik Cini is dying – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times

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