Planting exercise at Cameron Highlands aimed at reducing soil erosion and landslides

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: A million trees will be planted in Cameron Highlands, ssays Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

“We are discussing this with the Agriculture and Agro Based Industry and Energy, Green Technology and Water ministries

“We do not want high-rise buildings in Cameron Highlands,” he told reporters after meeting the non-governmental organisations to discuss environmental issues involving Cameron Highlands, here.

He said the trees will be planted in Cameron Highlands, especially hill slopes to reduce soil erosion prevent landslides.

Palanivel said the programme to plant trees would start in stages over a three-year period with the cooperation of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach) and Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka).

He said the ministry would also acquire 11 plots of land along the river banks of Sungai Bertam, Ringlet here, currently owned by individuals, under the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

Palanivel said the land acquisition was to enable works to be carried out in the area, especially to deepen the river, since the government had already allocated RM40mil for the purpose.

Asked about the proposed relocation of residents occupying the river banks and river reserves especially in Lembah Bertam, Ringlet where landslides and mud flood recently occurred, and the refusal of residents to move to a new area, Palanivel said it was the responsibility of the state government to take the necessary steps.

Meanwhile, Reach president, R. Ramakrishnan said land on the highland was not designated for tourism but Cameron Highlands has become a tourist attraction because of the cool weather conditions.

“Development carried in the area is illegal because the issuance of temporary occupation licences (TOL) were frozen in 2007.

“We need the commitment of the state and Federal Government to save Cameron Highlands,” he added.

Ramakrishnan said Reach, MNS and Peka would like to take Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to Cameron Highlands so that he can witness what has happened to the area.

Peka president Sharifah Sabrina Syed Akil said enforcement was lacking or not being carried out effectively in Cameron Highlands.

“If they have money and machinery, they just do it. There is no proper enforcement action,” said Sharifah.

Ramakrishnan and Sharifah Sabrina were also not satisfied with the discussion with Palanivel and a number of government agencies with regard to follow up action after Ringlet town was hit by landslides and a mud flood after water from a nearby river overflowed after a heavy downpour.

In the incident, five people died and five others were injured while 203 residents from 47 families in Kampung Baru and Bertam Valley were evacuated to the Ringlet community hall. - Bernama

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