KUANTAN: The state government has given out 22 more forest reserve land use permits to smallholders in Cameron Highlands.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the permits were only granted to farmers who had worked the land for more than 10 years, alleviating their worry that the land would be seized by the authorities.
“The Barisan Nasional state government is also concerned.
“Even though we knew farming on the land was done without permit previously, we did not disturb them because they were trying to earn a living," he said before chairing the state exco meeting in Lipis yesterday.
Wan Rosdy said the state could consider more applications for approval if it finds that the land had been worked on for more than 10 years, no rules were broken and the area was suitable.
He said a total of 73 permits had been granted so far with the previous ones issued in December.
Of the total, 64 were Chinese farmers, five Indians and the rest were Malays and orang asli.
Each of the recipient was allocated a maximum of 2.02ha of land but had to pay a RM3,000 fine for illegal use of the land previously and another RM1,500 fee for the permit.
Wan Rosdy said the move had been proposed since he was still an exco member but could not be carried out immediately because land surveying had to be done on sensitive areas, especially highlands like Tanah Rata.
“It has to be scrutinised carefully and if there are no problems, then only the state can consider for approval.
“I have been told by the state Forestry Department director that there are more applications and we will try to help," he said.
Wan Rosdy also advised the recipients to make good use of the land and farm according to the approved limits.
“The state will not tolerate large-scale farmers and syndicates that encroach upon the land illegally up to 20ha or 24ha.
“They will face enforcement,” he said.