PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Greenhouse farming, encroachment on river reserves and land clearing are among the activities that caused the floods and mudslide at several areas in Cameron Highlands, an enviromental group said.
Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach) president R. Ramakrishnan said the filters used by greenhouse farmers on their crops caused an unnatural flow of water into the river bed.
"They use plastic to cover and protect the crops and the water flowing from it goes into the riverbed.
"When the river cannot accommodate the extra water, there will be flash floods," Ramakrishnan told The Star.
The Star had previously highlighted in a series of articles the massive land clearing and development in Cameron Highlands.
Ramakrishnan also said there was no longer land available for agricultural purposes as the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry had ruled that such land was only suitable in areas with gradients below 20 degrees.
He estimated that the current erosion rate in the area was about 200 tonnes per hectare per year.
Tanah Rata assemblyman Leong Ngah Ngah cited over development, land clearing and heavy rainfall among the factors for the incident.
He said there have been a lot of development over the past years.
"Unchecked land clearing also cause destruction to water retention areas, causing rivers to swell.
"There are just too many housing and agricultural projects here now," he added.
Leong said the heavy rainfall on Wednesday evening was something beyond human control, but development of the highlands could be controlled.
He said there should be proper management of the land to achieve a balance between the environment and development.
"The authorities have been very careful when releasing the water from the dam," he said.