MARAN: Only “genuine” small-time farmers who need to support their family will be given temporary occupation licences (TOL) to operate their farms legally in Cameron Highlands.
Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said these category of farmers were those who have operated in the highlands since the days of their fathers and grandfathers.
Adnan said the state government was in the midst of identifying suitable plots of land for the purpose of issuing TOL.
“Since 2000, we have stop the issuance of TOL to protect the highlands from encroachment and deterioration.
“However, after considering the plight of these genuine farmers, we will re-issue TOL for a plot of 2ha land for them to continue farming to earn a living.
“Some of them have been farming for between 30 and 60 years, and I am equally surprised that they have not been given TOL,” he said after presenting land grants to the people here.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said long-time farmers in the highlands would be given TOL by the state government if their activities did not affect the environment.
Muhyiddin said about 2,260ha of land had been cleared and so far, about 176ha had been cleaned up by the authorities.
Adnan said the issuance of the TOL would be carried out strictly according to the stipulated requirements.
He said the exercise was expected to be completed by end of February or early March at the latest.
“We would not allow greedy farmers clearing massive plots of land for profit making purposes.
“Continuous enforcement and stern action will still be taken against them to protect the highlands from encroachment,” he said, adding that relevant agencies such as the Town Planning and Forestry Departments had been instructed to carry out landscaping and reforestation activities to rehabilitate the highlands.
On the climatic change and possible of another rounds of floods, Adnan urged the people and the authorities to be on the alert for any eventualities.
He added that experts had concluded that the changing global weather pattern was the main cause of the recent floods while farming and logging activities were among contributing factors.