Xavier says no decision yet, as Pahang demands RM17bil for conserving forest

KUALA LUMPUR: The federal government has not made a decision on whether to compensate Pahang RM17.1bil for conserving its forests.

“We haven’t decided to compensate any state,” said Dr Xavier Jayakumar, the Water, Land and Natural Resource Minister, during the Earth Day celebration at Taman Tugu here on Saturday (April 20).

On Thursday (April 18), it was reported that the Pahang government was planning to demand RM17.1bil in compensation for the revenue it was losing out on.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the compensation was an opportunity cost for the one million hectares of forest and wildlife reserves in the state that were being used as water catchment areas.

“All state government wants compensation, whether we will be able to give them the compensation is a different problem,” Xavier said.

He said there were different ways that the federal government could look at in issue of compensation, especially in terms of growing a forest industry.

“We have plans to have plantation forest and forest industry to continue and use the forest as the new economy,” he said, adding that there were also reforestation programmes in the pipeline.

“The states should take full advantage of these programmes in order to kick off the economy. There are very lucrative business models (to take advantage of),” he added.

Xavier said all water catchment areas and its buffer zones must be preserved and gazetted.

“Nobody should go into water catchment areas,” he said.

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Pahang wants RM17.1bil compensation from govt