Monday, December 29, 2008

MB: We’ll protect mangrove forests - Star

Dec 29, 2008 By CHRISTINA KOH

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (centre) receiving his Honourary Fellowship Award from Institution of Engineers Malaysia president Datuk Paduka Keizrul Abdullah. With them is IEM Perak branch chairman Angus Ang (left).

THE Perak Government will not legalise any prawn farm found to be endangering fragile coastlines and mangrove areas, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Moham-mad Nizar Jamaluddin.

He said the state was currently only asking some 5,000 prawn breeders in the state to provide feedback on the status of their farms before evaluating whether it would legalise the industry.

“We are not legalising it (the industry) now,” he told reporters after receiving an Honorary Fellowship Award from the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) in Ipoh recently.

“If it is proven that the farms are endangering the shoreline and species, we will not give approval. We will suggest another place for them.” he said after Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohamed Idris expressed shock that the Pakatan Rakyat government wanted to legalise the estimated 3,000 illegal prawn ponds in Manjung’s mangrove forests.

The environment group had described it as “akin to rewarding the law breakers” and encouraging other states to follow suit.

Last month, state executive councillor Nga Kor Ming had said the government was considering a new policy to legalise the industry to protect the farmers’ interests and check excessive encroachment into mangrove swamps.

Nizar said the state would give consideration to those prawn farmers whose farms were located on state land but not slated for future projects, while alternative land would be offered to the rest.

On another matter, he said the state was preparing a working paper to include all district engineers as members of their district action committees.

He said having the input of engineers earlier in the planning stage would help prevent future disasters like the Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa tragedies.

Nizar, an engineer by profession, said engineers were often sidelined and tended to only be called when there was a problem.

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