Tuesday October 9, 2012
Residents: Land clearing rampant in Cameron Highlands in the last four months
By SIMON KHOO
CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Rampant land clearing is being carried out in several forest reserve areas here, according to nearby residents.
Responding to their complaints, the District Office conducted a raid and seized heavy machinery, including backhoes and excavators.
Residents said tree-felling was especially rampant in the last four months.
K. Rengasamy, 58, said: “From what I observed, some 12ha have been cleared.”
Another resident Oh Peng, 58, said the felling of trees had affected water supply to houses downstream.
R. Subramaniam, 51, feared that the exposed slopes would suffer from erosion during bad weather.
Tanah Rata assemblyman Datuk Ho Yip Kap said land clearing was rampant, but he did not know if it was illegal.
He was, however, worried about the consequences.
“With the rainy season approaching, we do not want landslides and rivers silting up,” he said.
Cameron Highlands MP Datuk S.K. Devamany said illegal land-clearing was rampant in the constituency, and all parties should meet and come up with strategies to address the situation.
In an immediate response, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said he had instructed Cameron Highlands' district officer to check on the claims.
“If it is true (that land in forest reserve areas are being cleared), I want the relevant authorities to resolve the matter as soon as possible,” he said.
District officer Datuk Ahmad Daud said a site in Blue Vallley was raided three weeks ago and heavy machinery was seized.
He added: “The culprits carry out their work at night, and we are short of manpower. They clear land deep inside the forest reserve, and when our officers reach the site, they have long gone.”
Ahmad said some areas of the forest reserve were under the Foresrty Department's jurisdiction, adding that “we will act if illegal activities are detected on state land”.
Regional Environmental Association Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan said he had submitted a letter to Adnan, complaining about the land clearing on Aug 13, and to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. He believed that most of the clearings were illegal.
Even if permits had been issued in some cases, the conditions were not adhered to in accordance with the Land Conservation Act 1960, he said.
Ramakrishnan claimed that besides Blue Valley, illegal land clearing activities were also happening in Mensun Valley, Brinchang, Tanah Rata and Kampung Taman Sedia.
MNS: Camerons already affected by land clearing