KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — The logs that washed out during the Karak Highway landslide indicates that excessive land clearing may have caused the disaster, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said.
Local daily The Star also reported Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof as saying that he could not confirm the cause behind Wednesday’s landslide without first speaking to the Pahang state government.
“I cannot confirm it’s logging,” he was quoted saying.
Local daily New Straits Times reported today Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob as insisting, however, that excessive logging did not cause the landslide.
But he admitted that there had been land clearing activities from Bentong to Lenggeng, Negri Sembilan, to make way for the construction of Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) high-voltage pylons.
“We admit some trees were felled for TNB’s construction 1.2km from the affected area. It’s not just anybody’s logging project and it is not a concession given to any Tom, Dick or Harry,” Adnan was quoted saying.
Adnan added that the state government had, in fact, asked TNB to defer the project to “find another alignment” for the construction.
While admitting to not being an expert, Adnan theorised that “fissures between the hills” could have caused the landslides.
The Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) too said yesterday that the landslide was not caused by logging activities but rather due to an overflowed water catchment, The Star reported.
The department’s deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid reportedly said that heavy rains over the past few days caused the catchment to overflow and to pick up sediment, turning it into the mudslide that blanketed part of the busy expressway.
Environmental watchdog Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Sekitar (Peka) reportedly said yesterday that it had alerted the Pahang government and TNB last year to possible landslides along the Karak Highway, but that little was done to arrest the situation near the town of Lentang.
In the incident late Wednesday evening, around four vehicles were hit by the landslide that forced traffic to a standstill at the highway.
No casualties were reported.