Protecting forests of Cameron Highlands

Sungai Ichat, which became polluted in September because of illegal land encroachment at Kuala Terla, and its surrounding area have been approved for gazetting as a forest reserve. - Filepic

KUANTAN: The Pahang government has welcomed the move to place security forces in Cameron Highlands to thwart illegal land encroachment.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the presence of Armed Forces and General Operations Force personnel was for the purpose of maintaining security throughout Ops Lestari at the highlands.

“To facilitate the deployment, the state government has identified government quarters in Sungai Burung, Brinchang for that purpose. Repair and utilities preparation costs will be shouldered by the National Security Council.

“The Pahang government has also approved a RM150,000 allocation to be channelled to the Cameron Highlands district and land office (PDTCH) for food and fuel for the security forces, ” Wan Rosdy said in a statement following his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in Parliament on Monday.

He added that the allocation was for the period of December until March next year, after which the security forces would use their own allocation.

As an addition, the state government had also approved the formation of the Pahang Enforcement Unit made up of various enforcement agencies to assist in operations.

Wan Rosdy said previously, phase two of Ops Lestari had been postponed following an injunction taken out by 28 farmers.

“However, on Sept 30, the injunction has been withdrawn allowing enforcement to continue in a 97.12ha area. This is a continuation of phase one of Ops Lestari involving 24.28ha of land, which began on Feb 25 and completed successfully on March 19, ” he said.

Wan Rosdy also said the Cameron Highlands Development Corporation (PKCH) had been established to ensure sustainable development.

“Besides promoting the district as a trade, investment, logistics and tourism destination, PKCH also plays a role in stimulating socio-economic, infrastructure, housing and agriculture development.

“I will personally chair PKCH, assisted by the state secretary as the deputy chairman while the members are made up of five state government representatives, three from the federal government and two from among experts and professionals, ” said Wan Rosdy.

Among other important decisions on Cameron Highlands, he said, was that 5,519ha of agricultural land previously granted temporary occupation licence would be given over to the Pahang State Secretary Corporation, which would then rent it out to farmers according to fixed periods.

Farmers who wished to rent must obtain the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practice certificate issued by the Agriculture Department before permission or renewal would be granted.

To ensure efficient slope management, all sheltered farming must also obtain approval from the Cameron Highlands district council (MDCH) first while the usage of heavy machinery would require permit from a technical committee made up of PDTCH, MDCH, Mineral and Geoscience Department, Irrigation and Drainage Department, Department of Environment, Forestry Department and Public Works Department.

Meanwhile, Sungai Ichat and its surrounding area up to 121.12ha had been approved for gazetting as a forest reserve.

The entire Cameron Highlands district had also been approved for gazetting as a MDCH operations area during the state executive council meeting on Sept 17.

The Batu Gangan, Batu Gangan Tambahan, Hulu Ichat and Sungai Terla B forest reserves encompassing 2,289.62ha would also be gazetted as a state park.

Wan Rosdy said a task force formed by the state Forestry Department would run a forest replanting programme especially in the river reserve areas.

“It is hoped that with these solid measures, Cameron Highlands will recover its glory while maintaining sustainability, ” he said.

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