KUANTAN: Enforcement operations to check against land encroachments, including by farmers, in Cameron Highlands will continue to be carried out to ensure environmental sustainability, says the Pahang government.
State secretary Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Ishak said despite the numerous eviction notices issued against the farmers since August 2009, land encroachment continued to take place.
His statement came after Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong's urged the state to postpone its enforcement operations in Cameron Highlands until after Chinese New Year.
Chiong said the state might have strong reasons for conducting the operations on some vegetable farms, but hoped the farmers could be given some time to reap their harvest.
However, Dr Sallehuddin said the state was committed to proceeding with the enforcement and would not compromise.
He said phase one of the operations detected 11 land encroachments, while phase two covered 37 plots with a total area of 121ha.
"The state government has always made sure every enforcement action carried out is done according to the rule of law.
"As proof, the previous demolition action in Sungai Ichat was halted after the settlers obtained an interim injunction dated March 11 from the Kuantan High Court.
"However, the plaintiffs withdrew their application and stopped the suit on Sept 30," he said.
Following a visit by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in September, Dr Sallehuddin said the National Security Council decided to initiate Ops Lestari by placing Armed Forces and General Operations Force personnel in Cameron Highlands to tackle the problem.
Subsequently, the Cameron Highlands Rehabilitation Joint Action Committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Mentri Besar agreed to continue Ops Lestari 2 and mobilise security forces beginning Dec 16.
On a another matter, he said the Kuala Terla water treatment plant was the biggest and most important plant supplying 70% of clean water to Cameron Highlands but the raw water flow of Sungai Terla could no longer accommodate current needs and development in the near future.
"Thus, to further increase the volume of raw water, the Sungai Ichat water flow is much needed.
"Based on monitoring by Perbadanan Air Pahang (PAIP), the water quality of Sungai Ichat has begun to recover after enforcement action was taken while clean-up work is also being undertaken nearly every week by PAIP," he said.
Dr Sallehuddin added that PAIP was planning to divert Sungai Ichat to merge with Sungai Terla in the second quarter of 2020 as with the original design of the Kuala Terla water plant.
"It is hoped that this action will improve and stabilise the raw water flow for use in the Kuala Terla water treatment plant," he said.