The Coalition for the Protection of Selangor’s Forests has voiced support for a stop-work order issued against the Selangor State Agricultural Development Corporation (PKPS) for its project affecting nearly 1,000 hectares of peat swamp forest in Changkat Menteri, Sabak Bernam.
When contacted, coalition representative Faizal Parish urged PKPS to comply with the Department of Environment's stop-work order which was issued following the alleged failure of the state GLC to submit the project's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
"We support the move by the DOE and we hope that PKPS will comply with the order because we understand they are still clearing the land," Faizal, the Global Environment Centre director, told Malaysiakini.
Faizal said the DOE should also send its team to the site to ensure compliance with the stop-work order.
"We hope the DOE will send a team to look at the situation.
"We also understand the menteri besar has instructed the state exco for the environment to take action," said Faizal referring to Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, who is also PKPS chairperson, and state environment exco Hee Loy Sian.
Faizal, a peat specialist, said the area was initially marked for an oil palm plantation before this was changed to the present purpose. He said the area was extremely sensitive with the risk of fires during the hot season.
With the initial clearing work done, Faizal said the authorities should take measures to replant the area, block any drainage and seal up any access.
Earlier today, DOE director-general Norlin Jaafar said based on its records, there were no EIA reports received from PKPS as required under Section 34A(6) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
"Following the Selangor DOE's investigation at the project location, a notice order was issued to PKPS on April 8 under Section 31, Environmental Quality Act 1974 (Act 127) as well as a stop-work order for activities prescribed under Section 34AA of the same Act on April 12 to stop the site clearing work immediately and submit the EIA report to the DOE," she said.
An EIA study is mandatory for all projects which propose to clear and drain more than 20ha of peat swamp forest for agriculture or other uses.
According to the coalition of seven environmental organisations, the area in Sabak Bernam has been designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) under the National Physical Plan 3 (2016-2020).
On top of that, the area is also specified for protection under the Selangor State Structure Plan 2035.
When contacted, a PKPS representative said it was in the process of drafting a response to the DOE.