By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: The blame game between Land Development Minister James Masing and state forest director Len Talif over the recent logjam disaster along the Rajang river has shifted to the weather.
Talif is blaming the rain and is of the opinion that loggers had nothing to do with it.
In a direct challenge to Masing, Talif said the logjam was not caused by logging but due to the changing patterns of rain in the area.
“Many thought that logging was the main cause, but studies showed that it contributed minimally to the massive debris that clogged the Rajang River for several days.
“The shifting patterns of rain in the area is the main culprit. The rain pattern has been changing in the last three years.
“According to the hydrography report on Nanga Ga’at, the water level on Oct 3 at 4.48 pm was 8 metres. On Oct 7 at 7.00 am, the water level was 5 metres. At 9.00 pm on the same day, it rose to 11 metres.
“Through this study, we have concluded that the debris was caused by the concentration of rains within a short period,” he said.
Since the logjam that stretched 250km of the Rajang river, Masing has strongly criticed the department and blamed rampant illegal logging in forests in Sungai Melatai, in the Baleh constiteuncy, for the disaster
Masing said heavy logging activities in Sungai Melatai had caused landslides during heavy rains bringing with it logs and debris down the river right into Rajang.
Masing wants swift action
He has demanded that the authorities (forestry department) take stern action against companies. According to him, this was the third incident of its kind.
Talif however has denied there are logging activities in Sungai Melatai. According to him all activities there had stopped in 2007.
But Masing, in whose constituency Sungai Melatai sits, has a different view of the 'man-made disaster', and Talif's denial of existing logging activities in Sungai Melatai.
“I am not being polemical here. But it is interesting to note that where there are massive soil erosions in the upper reaches of Baleh River there are extensive logging activities.
“There are no massive erosions where there are no logging activities.
“What does this mean? Let soil experts make their conclusions. I stand to be corrected on the cause of Baleh logjam issue,” said Masing who is also Baleh assemblyman.