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PEKAN: Bringing mining activities to a halt, implementing extensive rehabilitation programs, and building eco-friendly concept chalets are among the initiatives to help restore Tasik Chini to its heydays.

State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said the Pahang government is in the midst of studying measures to introduce a comprehensive plan to revive the country's second-largest freshwater lake which has been experiencing a major drop-in visitors.

"It is high time to look at this from a bigger perspective and layout fresh plans to give the historical lake a new start. Long-term plans include bringing an end to the mining activities and plant trees at areas previously affected by mining.

"The priority has to be maintaining ecotourism by building more eco-friendly chalets near the lake and introducing water activities apart from the usual boat rides and fishing. We must scrutinize all the options and identify the best approach for the lake area," he said when contacted.

Sharkar said he will engage PLANMalaysia (formerly known as the Town and Country Planning Department) to come up with a master plan to revive Tasik Chini and its vicinity.

He said researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) will also be roped in to provide their views as they have been involved in efforts to restore water in the lake to its previous pristine condition.

"Since UKM has set up the Tasik Chini Research Centre nearby, we will brainstorm and work together to find a long-term solution. It is good that we have a university collaborating with the state government.

"We need to look at the bigger picture and make long term plans for the next 10 to 20 years," he said.

Sharkar said last week, he accompanied Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah to attend a briefing with UKM at Tasik Chini.

"The minister was given updates on the lake area, UKM spoke about their research efforts while the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department director-general also shared his input.

"The priority now is to maintain the biosphere reserve status accorded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 1996... there are criteria that have to be met and we will work to ensure the lake will not be at risk of losing it," he said.

The lake resort which was opened in 1985 had been closed since November last year and a former boatman Amran Yahya hoped that the soon to be elected Chini assemblyman will focus on reopening the resort.

Meanwhile, a former Lake Chini resort staff, who declined to be named, said the entire resort and lake area requires a major facelift including the roads to the resort which are now overgrown with grass and left unattended.

"If the state government is serious about promoting the lake, a budget should be allocated and approved for the upgrading works. It has to be now or never... a new manager must be appointed to take charge of the resort to ensure the place is not left abandoned for too long.

"Several years ago, UKM revealed that the eco-system of Tasik Chini was in a critical and dying situation. Since then numerous efforts were taken to improve the lake area but little attention was given to the surrounding areas... unregulated mining and logging activities are destroying the environment," he said.

The three-cornered Chini by-election on July 4 will see Barisan Nasional's Mohd Sharim Md Zain going against two independent candidates: Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin and Mohd Syukri Mohd Ramli. Source - NST

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