Is Lake Chini Dying?

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A picture of Tasik Chini which recently went viral shows mining activity taking place in the vicinity of the lake. — Picture via Facebook

Chini Lake, also known as Tasik Chini in Malaysia, is a lake in the Pekan District of Pahang. The Jakun branch of the Orang Asli live along the lake’s shoreline. Tasik Chini, a 12,565-acre (5,085-hectare) system of 12 lakes, is Peninsular Malaysia’s second largest fresh water lake. The Chini River flows into the Pahang River after draining the lake. Tasik Chini is the first to obtain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in Malaysia in November 2009.

Lately, there has been a viral photo showing damage to Tasik Chini caused by mining activity there was actually taken two years ago, according to former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in T`he Vibes, June 10, 2021. A report claimed that a new mining site will commence about 3km from the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which has in recent years been grappling with mining and logging pollution.

According to a Bathymetry Research posted by SE Elements on 2019 in their website reveals that Tasik Chini is shrinking in size due to sedimentation from mining activities. Bathymetry is the study of the “beds” or “floors” of water bodies, including the ocean, rivers, streams, and lakes. Bathymetry is the foundation of the science of hydrography, which measures the physical features of a water body.  Hydrography includes not only bathymetry, but also the shape and features of the shoreline; the characteristics of tides, currents, and waves; and the physical and chemical properties of the water itself.

Pahang Department of Environment (DoE) says in The Star News on June 10, Tasik Chini is not polluted, and analysis has shown its water to be clean and safe for all, despite the publication of photographs that seem to show otherwise. The department said it had been monitoring the lake ever since it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. “Data collected in 2020 and up to March of this year prove that the water is clean and safe for all living animals, particularly those residing in the lake,” the Department stated in a statement.

Tasik Chini has been a controversial isuues since few years back, and now the lake attracted media attention again after being reported that there will be mining works to commence there, despite plans to rehabilitate the area as in November last year, Pahang gazetted Tasik Chini as a state park and banned all mining and logging activities in the surrounding area to allow for its restoration.

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