Dr Harinder Rai in thick of bauxite action

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| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 8 Jan 2016 | Asia Samachar |
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Dr. Harinder Rai Singh: Coastal and marine ecologist

A Sikh scientist has a role to play in the current  media uproar on the bauxite mining operations in Kuantan, a city in the Malaysian state of Pahang.

The extensive media coverage on the long-standing bauxite mining issue took a new life with a front-paged coverage entitled ‘Generations will suffer’ by the New Sunday Times on 3 Jan 2016.

The coverage, extending into five full pages, was based on what the newspaper called a ‘well-researched’ report from a group of 17 Malaysian scientists and environmental professionals.

Assoc. Prof Dr. Harinder Rai Singh, a coastal and marine ecologist attached to the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), is one of them.

The report, submitted to the Malaysian Federal government as well as the state government, warned of devastating conseqences to the population and environment in Kuantan if uncontrolled mining of bauxite continues.

The environment speacialists had concluded that their report was a ‘scientifically sound assessment of the present bauxite mining operations in Kuantan, and the environmental, health and safety issues confronting the people of Kuantan’.

“We do not claim to have all the evidences and data necessary to make a comprehensive assessment. However, we strongly opine that the available data and information, as well as good common sense, points towards an impending manmade disaster, if necessary corrective and remedial measures are not immediately taken by the regulatory and responsible authourities,” they said.

They noted that mining for bauxite was not unique to Malaysia as many countries have done it responsibly before us.

“All that we and the people of Kuantan ask for is that the mining operation be done properly according to international standards and best practices. Malaysia is heading towards a developed nation status and we cannot be doing something that is as irresponsible and unsustainable as this,” they asserted.

Dr Harinder Rai is known as a passionate scientist, and besides science, his passion is playing the tabla where he occassionally plays in gurdwaras, and in the past for ghazal performances.

His area of expertise includes environmental monitoring and ecosystems ecology for marine, coastal as well as aquatic systems.

He is actively involved in various preliminary and detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) studies. He is also a subject matter specialist certified by the Department of Environment and an expert panel for the same on matters related to marine, coastal and aquatic issues.

Besides that, he is also a panel for e-Science grants under the Ministry of Science as well as sit in the national committee for the Research & Development of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

Harinder Rai is also the author for chapters on the Mangrove Ecosystem in the Handbook on the Marine Living Coastal Resources, Marine Biodiversity Expedition Report by the Marine Parks of Malaysia, co-author of the Biodiversity Sector for the MegaScience Study under Academy of Sciences Malaysia, and part of the experts drafting the National Oceans Policy.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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1 COMMENT

  1. Bauxite caused pollution of water and air resources from operations in Pahang has been ongoing since commencement of its operations almost a year ago. Warning signs of health hazards were evident from the beginning. The lorries are perceived to be the cause of adverse health of locals and damaged environment and water resources and air. The non-stop transport by overloaded lorries also had been damaging the roads which were probably not designed for these over loaded lorries.
    Sadly all the visible signs appeared to have been ignored by those leaders and professionals who were responsible for the award of the licences. The responsible enforcement agencies [health-jkr-others] are perceived to have turned a blind eye to the possible flagrant abuse of prescribed conditions, if any.
    The recent report that MACC had detained four persons for royalty payments being about one-fifth of the amount due which was alleged to be due to suspected corruption’
    MACC should also consider extending its investigations on poor/weak enforcement perceived to be common knowledge among those adversely effected and also the award of the licence and/or conditions which may not have provided for deterrent penalties for non-compliance of safety aspects as all of these may also could have involved corrupt practices. The investigations should not be limited only to short payment of royalty which is direct financial loss of revenue as the poor/weak enforcement also will cause direct avoidable expenditure to taxpayers and indirectly endanger the health and livelihood of the fishermen and their dependents who again would need to be provided financial assistance.
    It is suggested that all those in positions of power and enforcement and those who support the bauxite operations be mandated to live in the vicinity of the bauxite operations/transport to prove that there is no risk to health or economy. But then does the laws provide for such penalties. In the meantime the suspects should be shamed by exposing them in the media and the neighborhoods.

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