Sand dredging firm in Spaoh slapped with stop work order

One of the graves at the Seruai Muslim cemetery sliding into the river as a result of the soil erosion.

KUCHING, June 26: The Land and Survey Department (LSD) has issued an immediate stop work order on a licensed private company in Spaoh doing sand dredging and pumping activities.

The order was issued following a police report lodged by Batang Lupar Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) branch chairman Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh, who claimed that over 100 graves at the Seruai Muslim Cemetery in Spaoh had been damaged by soil erosion.

According to a Bernama report, Abang Zulkifli claimed soil erosion on the banks of Sungai Saribas was caused by sand mining activities and it resulted in many graves collapsing into the river.

He thus urged the LSD, Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) to investigate the matter.

In response to the incident, LSD said erosion issues involving the cemetery, especially the areas located extremely near to river banks, had been discussed for about 18 years now.

“This issue happened way before the sand dredging operations, which the company only started work on sometime in August last year. The sand dredging is also conducted more than one kilometre away from the cemetery site.

“The company involved was issued with a proper licence, and they have obtained the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from NREB. They are also required to provide Environmental Monitoring Report (EMR) for the purpose of monitoring and revaluation,” LSD said in a statement today.

On long-term measures, LSD said the state government had identified and approved a new cemetery site at Lot 999 Block 13 Paku Land District.

The new site sits next to the existing cemetery.

The department assured residents in the nine affected villages, namely Kampung Spaoh, Kampung Bungin, Kampung Belingan, Kampung Sebemban, Kampung Tanjung Asam, Kampung Serembang, Kampung Budak, Kampung Supa and Kampung Mangut, that they would conduct a detailed investigation into this matter as soon as possible. — DayakDaily