PETALING JAYA: The Government has spent a total of RM246.5mil on restoration efforts in Cameron Highlands from 2014 to 2017 under a programme dubbed Op Gading, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the funds were spent on various initiatives, including RM88mil by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB)on the deepening of dams as a flood prevention measure.
"It shows the Federal and Pahang state government's resolve to ensure Cameron Highlands remains a premier tourist destination, while increasing its economic yield through sustainable agriculture activities," he said after co-chairing the "High-level committee on the restoration of Cameron Highlands" talk with Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
He said restoration efforts last year ran smoothly and achieved its goals.
"It not only prevented illegal land clearing activities, but also ensured that flood mitigation and river cleaning efforts were on point," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also announced that the restoration of the permanent forest reserve in Cameron Highlands and other relevant areas has been conducted, adding that temporary settlement licences had been issued to qualified individuals, such as those who rely on agriculture for a living.
He added that the cooperation between agencies at the federal and state levels has also ensured a more efficient way of hiring foreign labour, ensuring that agricultural production is not hampered in the long-term.
"A slope mitigation project worth RM1.15mil at the Sungai Tiang Orang Asli settlement has also been started and is expected to be completed in early February.
Upon the project's competition, 28 families in Sungai Tiang do not have to relocate as the current location is safe," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the National Security Council (NSC) will continue its role as the lead agency in Cameron Highlands in overseeing the next phase of Op Gading with the cooperation of agencies from the Federal Government and Pahang state government.
"Aluminium, metal and wooden waste derived from the destruction of plastic housing structures at the forest reserved land must be disposed of as soon as possible.
"Helicopters from the Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysia Police will be deployed to conduct air monitoring operation and to assist during national disasters," he said.
He added that an Army sub-unit will continue to be placed at Cameron Highlands to prevent any trespassing on government's land.
"They are also tasked at conducting operations against illegal immigrants in the area," he said.