By Rahmah Ghazali
FREE MALAYSIA TODAY
PETALING JAYA: Mining for tin in Selangor is more trouble than it is worth, according to former menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.
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Responding to an allegation that Barisan Nasional had a hidden agenda in calling for a stop in sand mining on state lands, he said sand fetched more income than tin.
Yesterday, in a memorandum to the state government, a committee representing licensed contractors in sand-related businesses, accused BN of trying to prevent the discovery of tin deposits while Selangor was still under Pakatan Rakyat rule.
The committee’s chairman, Raja Kamaruddin Abdul Wahid, said sand miners might find tin if they dug deeper.
Khir, who is the Selangor opposition leader, said the administration he headed decided not to prioritise tin mining to prevent damage to the land.
“The destruction would be unbearable,” he told FMT.
Besides, he added, tin would represent only “5% to 10%” of Selangor’s sources of income, whereas sand could give up to 90%.
This “small contribution” could not justify the damage done to the land, he said.
Khir revealed that the hot spots for tin included Kuala Langat, Hulu Langat, Hulu Selangor and, especially, Sungai Selangor, which he said had been “badly damaged”.
“We had to close tin sites because there was so much destruction to the land and it is expensive to repair it,” he said.
“We could see that the income from tin could not cover the cost of repairs.”
Abuses by licence holders
Khir alleged that there were sand miners abusing their licences to dig deep to get the tin underneath.
He said his administration, unlike its successor, never depended on sand mining as a source of income.
“There are a lot of problems in sand mining, actually,” he said. “Especially when the contractors fail to rehabilitate the land.
“We can get more by carrying out developments on other things. That is why we stopped both sand mining and tin mining.”
He said his government approved 148 private licenses for sand mining on private lands.
“In our view, these private lands are usually well taken care of. Besides, we did not allow operations after office hours, and only before 5pm on the weekends to prevent sand theft.”
Khir repeated his allegation that sand theft was rife in the state.
“When we visited most of the lands, why did the workers run away from us? Why are there still lorries coming in and out after office hours? What does this tell you?”
Khir also accused the current administration of abusing state land for mega projects.
“The condition of our land has become much more critical because the state government prioritises mega projects, which I refused to do during my tenure,” he said.