ALOR SETAR: The Kedah government may need to designate new areas for forest plantation projects previously approved if they are found to pose risks to the environment and residents.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said these projects cannot be cancelled arbitrarily due to potential legal repercussions.

“Our challenge is that approvals for forest plantation projects have been excessively granted... there are old approvals that legally bind us, and cancelling them could lead to legal consequences. We can only issue new approvals as replacements... for example, there was an earlier approval for a forest plantation project in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

“If you check with the Kedah Forestry Department, there is indeed a new approval, but it’s to replace the forest plantation project in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve,” he told reporters after chairing the state executive council meeting here today.

He was responding to concerns raised in a newspaper report regarding ongoing tree felling activities at the Gunung Bongsu Forest Reserve in Kulim, suspected done for logging routes and plantation projects.

Muhammad Sanusi said if any forest plantation project is found risky, discussions will be held with the respective companies to cancel approvals in that area and designate new ones.

Separately, Muhammad Sanusi said two water treatment plant (LRA) projects, namely LRA Sungai Limau and LRA Bukit Selambau, have been given extension of time (EOT) until January and April 2025 respectively.

He said these extensions were granted due to technicalities and emerging project-related issues.

“For Sungai Limau, this is the second extension granted, and the contracting company will face penalties if project delivery exceeds the specified date... as for Bukit Selambau, the extension is until April, with similar penalties thereafter,” he added.

Muhammad Sanusi attributed challenges faced by the contracting companies to rising construction material prices since tender decisions were made in 2021.