KUANTAN: The issuance of new temporary occupation licence (TOL) for Cameron Highlands has been frozen since 2008, said Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.
He said the strict measure was taken to limit land exploration, even legal ones, for the purpose of agriculture by vegetable and fruit farmers.
“This decision has been undertaken since Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob was the mentri besar, to protect the environment of Cameron Highlands that has a land area of 71,225ha.
“The freeze has been in place for 10 years now and it is still continued during my tenure,” Wan Rosdy said in a statement.
The current TOL was only for 2,407.40ha or 3.38% of Cameron Highlands’ total land area, he said.
The statement was in response to Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar’s recommendation that the Pahang and Perak state governments stop issuing new land exploration permits for development and agriculture in the highlands.
On approval for development, Wan Rosdy said this must be referred to the state executive council.
He said it was the state executive council that decides whether to grant approval for any proposed development project, including for those that are less than 4.05ha in Cameron Highlands.
“The proposed project has to be submitted to the economic planning division of the State Secretary’s Office for scrutiny by the technical committee made up of various departments including the Department of Environment.
“If getting this approval is already so difficult in that it is being filtered carefully by the technical committee; once approval is granted, the developer still has to ensure all conditions and rules related to sensitive areas like Cameron Highlands are followed.
“If they fail to do so, the related departments can take action including issuing fines, stop-work order and cancellation of the project,” said Wan Rosdy.
On land encroachment, Wan Rosdy said it was still at 2,258ha or 3.2% of the district.
He said, however, the state government was worried of adverse effects that could come from the encroachment and thus it would continue to tackle the issue together with the Federal Government, which it expects to resume as Ops Gading.
According to Wan Rosdy, enforcement action by the National Security Council on these land encroachment covered 1,942ha.
In spite of that, Wan Rosdy said he was satisfied with the land use in the highlands which he said was still at a reasonable rate.
Cameron Highlands, he said, was still covered by permanent reserve forest as wide as 38,418.77ha or 53.94% of the district.
The rest comprised 13,568.36ha of government land; 5,933.04ha were orang asli settlements; 5,655.27ha were reserved land including Malay reserve and 5,242.16ha were titled lots.