Sometime during last weekend, Wak and I covered a story somewhere south of Shah Alam, in a village which had we not been called by the villagers to highlight their plight, I would not even know they exist at all! Situated alongside the Klang River, this village - name withheld due to current investigations - have been around for 35years and as we were made to understand, it was awarded 'kampung teroka' status by the previous state government, similar to Kampung Berembang and Kampung Rimba Jaya. Ironically, that was one of the reasons the villagers called webtv8.
Wak and I arrive slightly after Asr and met the Village Spokesman and several others at a coffee shop there. Traveling in 3 cars, the villagers then brought us to a house situated beside the Klang River, and from there we had to climb a dike which was built to prevent the river from overflowing and flooding the areas alongside it. From there, we sighted 3 dredges and were told of another 2 just further up the river. These dredges, we were told, belong to a company which were given the contract to widen and deepen the Klang River, and perhaps the entire stretch of it from Kuala Lumpur to Klang!
Perhaps it is only logical for silts and sand to be scooped up from the river bottom and banks during the process of widening and deepening works. And perhaps it is only logical too that the scooped silt and sand are transported - perhaps sold - to another location. But I remember reading a by law somewhere that sand cannot be sold and transported out of a certain district or state mainly due to environmental problems it would cause later. Unfortunately, I am unable to retrieve the enactment yet. Further, due to the presence of some unfriendly looking people around the site, we were unable to ascertain the destination/s of the trucks (by the hundreds, we were informed by the villagers).
Due to the ongoing works, the villagers then brought us another site where part of the dike - on the village side - have been damaged and even broken in some places. This could cause the village to be flooded whenever water overflow the river banks. We were also shown a row of house which have been damaged perhaps due to sinking ground caused by the ongoing works.
When asked why they had not brought the matter up to the authorities, the Village Spokesman by the name of Azmi, replied they had! In fact, the former State Exco in charge of Mining even came down to look into the matter sometime in July 2007. However, 3 days after the visit, the number of dredges grew from 1 to the present 5, and works are still ongoing without any signs of stopping nor repairs being initiated for the damaged dike.
When the former State Exco came to the village, Heads of State Government Departments were brought along for a meeting with the villagers in the Community Hall. But instead of given assurance on the matter, the villagers were warned not to continue making noise about the matter! Worse, they were told, the houses alongside the river will be demolished soon after PRU12!
The villagers then made a police report, but were later told by the police that the matter is not within their jurisdiction.
Somehow, a villager managed to get in touch with webtv8 and have asked to bring the matter up. However, it will not be a simple matter and along with Harakah, we will be visiting the village again this Friday, insyAllah.
Still, looking at the matter, I would say the villagers are lucky! What, with a new administration, insyAllah, their plight will be looked into. Better still, their houses won't be demolished now.
Once an umno stronghold, the BA had slowly made inroads since 1999. During the PRU12, an overwhelming majority of the villagers decided they have had enough of empty promises, rhetorics...and threats by the government they had previously put into office.
Whatever the outcome of the investigations now, the villagers, as the saying goes, were saved by the bell, alhamdulillah. I just cannot and would not want to imagine had the results of the PRU12 had been otherwise.