MALACCA: A state forest reserve in Bukit Senggeh, Selandar near here, has been encroached upon for organised rubber cultivation.
The 10ha forest reserve, about 30km from the city centre, has been planted with rows of rubber trees, believed to be aged between four and six years old.
Naturally, some of the existing trees from the reserve had been cut to make way for the plantation, with tree stumps still visible on the ground.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, who was rather bemused by the finding, said the activities were believed to have been going on for five to six years.
“How could it have happened throughout the years? I am eager to know who is behind all this,” he said on Wednesday evening after chairing the weekly state executive councillor meeting at Seri Negeri in Ayer Keroh.
Idris said the issue came to his attention when villagers at the area were curious about the plantation that just appeared in the middle of the forest, and alerted authorities.
Initially, the villagers thought it was on private land, he said, adding that the state Forestry Department was also not aware of the matter.
“However, only when the trees had grown tall and people started asking questions was it learnt that the land belongs to state forest reserve,” said Idris, adding that some village folks claimed it was the orang asli who had cultivated the illegal plantation, with even some orang asli claiming the trees as theirs.
“Anyway, I see that it was not the work of the orang asli after some checks. The plantation is also very well organised, much better than my old folks’ farm.
“I suspect that some organised quarter is behind this,’’ he said.
Asked what the state government’s next course of action will be, Idris replied that it would be a waste to bring down the trees.
“We have suggested at the exco meeting that the state government lease the area to those interested to tap the rubber trees. We are considering an open tender for this,” he said.
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