DEL­UGE PAINTS GRIM PIC­TURE

Res­i­dents blame un­con­trolled farm­ing

New Straits Times - - News - FER­NANDO FONG AND NURADZIMMAH DAIM KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

THE flash flood in Ringlet might be the har­bin­ger of worse calami­ties in Cameron High­lands, warned a lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Re­gional Environment Aware­ness Cameron High­lands (Reach) pres­i­dent Ra­makr­ish­nan Ra­masamy said amid the spate of flash floods that struck Cameron High­lands this year, the del­uge in Ringlet painted a grim pic­ture.

“The prob­lem lies in un­con­trolled farm­ing up­stream. This has made floods worse by caus­ing rain­fall run-off, but farmers don’t want more reg­u­la­tions as it would cost them money.

“Mean­while. it’s the peo­ple down­stream who get a soak­ing,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said the au­thor­i­ties should work with far­mown­ers to prac­tise proper land man­age­ment to im­prove soil wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity.

Ra­masamy said they should not wait un­til there was an­other mud flood in Ber­tam Val­ley.

He was re­fer­ring to an Oc­to­ber 2013 in­ci­dent that killed four peo­ple and left more than 80 houses and sev­eral cars de­stroyed in the Ber­tam Val­ley set­tle­ment ar­eas.

On Tues­day, a two-hour down­pour caused a flash flood, af­fect­ing 32 peo­ple, in­clud­ing those at the Ringlet po­lice sta­tion.

Three po­lice­men fam­i­lies and 24 vil­lagers liv­ing near the Sun­gai Ringlet river­bank were af­fected, but no in­juries were re­ported.

Lo­cal ac­tivist Suresh Ku­mar said the brown­ish colour and mas­sive vol­ume of wa­ter were in­di­ca­tions that land clear­ing was ram­pant.

Suresh, who is the lo­cal Parti Sosialis Malaysia branch leader, said gov­ern­ment rules on soil man­age­ment were of­ten ig­nored by farmers.

Cameron High­lands Dis­trict Drainage and Ir­ri­ga­tion Depart­ment en­gi­neer Tengku Suhaili Tengku Abas said a river-wi­den­ing project in Ringlet would start in July to ad­dress flash floods. The project would take 34 months to com­plete.

She said 31 fam­i­lies liv­ing near Sun­gai Ringlet were be­ing re­lo­cated to var­i­ous parts of Cameron High­lands and had re­ceived RM11.5 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion.

Vil­lager Jamil Ab­dul­lah, 60, said a re­ten­tion wall in front of his house was dam­aged in the flash flood on Tues­day.

His neigh­bour, A. Gane­san, 52, hoped that the au­thor­i­ties would carry out tem­po­rary mea­sures while wait­ing for the project to be com­pleted.

MUHAIZAN YAHYA PIC BY

A. Gane­san (right) and Jamil Ab­dul­lah look­ing at the dam­age caused by swift-flow­ing wa­ters in Sun­gai Ringlet yes­ter­day.

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