BAU: About 150 people comprising community leaders, councillors and leaders of local NGOs from Tasik Biru, Serembu and neighbouring Opar led by two elected representatives from Bau district – Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep and Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh – held a peaceful protest against a quarry operating in a national park near yesterday.
The Dered Krian National Park is known for its limestone forest, caves and mountains as one of the state’s newest national parks.
The protesters called for a review of the licence issued to that company.
They argued that such activities pose not just the threat of pollution, but also destroy historical significance and disrupt efforts to make the site a tourism product as the caves of the national park has many endemic species of flora and fauna.
Henry said the national park holds significant value not just for the people of Bau but the whole of Sarawak as the caves there hold historical and archeological secrets waiting to be discovered.
He questioned how a quarry company was allowed to start operating there two months ago despite the fact the area was gazetted as a national park in 2013.
“Both Miro and I will be writing a letter to Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg for the government to review the issuance of quarry licence to this company to stop its operation,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Henry also said blasting activities in the area took place despite the fact that a residential house is located only 150 metres away from the site while the standard operating procedure (SOP)only permits blasting to be done half a kilometre away from any residential house.
“They (residents) complained to us. I wrote to the relevant agencies, but no action was taken. And now, they might want to blast away the cave,” he said.
The 1,339 ha area, sandwiched between Tasik Biru and Opar constituencies, was gazetted as a national park on October 3, 2013. It is located only 10 minutes’ drive from Bau town.
Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) explored the area around 2001 to 2003 before it was gazetted as a national park and discovered several new species of plants and freshwater crabs.
Last year, there was a scientific expedition organised by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and the Forest Department which resulted in the discovery of new endemic species of flora and fauna there.
Meanwhile, Miro said the quarry activities obviously did not comply with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements and the company should not be allowed to encroach into an area already gazetted as a national park.
He pointed out that there are 10 quarry companies operating in Serembu constituency there and there is no need for any new quarry.
“We already have enough quarries in Bau. Enough is enough, this is high time for state government to stop all this nonsense. I receive complaints from the people every day from Jalan Tanjung Durian and Keranji, regarding the quarry activities affecting their lives.
“Every day, I receive complaints of roads damaged by heavy lorries from the quarry, but they do not want to repair the road. The residents face health problems because of the dust from the quarry. There is also noise pollution caused by the quarries,” he said.
Both he and Henry also said they were not against development in their constituencies, but their main concern is to protect the interest of the people and ensure protected areas are not encroached by destructive business activities.