RM2.2 billion initiative to save Cameron Highlands

19 Apr 2016 / 23:54 H.

PUTRAJAYA: Phase Two of "Ops Gading" – a RM2.2 billion operation to save Cameron Highlands which has suffered serious land encroachment and flooding — will kick off next month.
National Security Council (MKN) secretary Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad said today the second phase of the operation to combat illegal activities would focus on the aspects of rehabilitation and conservation of the environment in the district which has suffered serious land encroachment and flooding.
"The government is serious about curbing illegal encroachment of land in Cameron Highlands," he said, adding that Phase Two of the operation would be carried out in three stages, with the first taking off on May 2, followed by stage two in June and the third in July.
The first stage in phase two will focus more on rehabilitation, particularly:
» conserving the environment;
» cleaning river areas;
» constructing walls at dangerous slopes; and
» cleaning encroached areas.
Speaking to reporters after chairing the Cameron Highlands Rehabilitation Technical Committee here today, Alias said the overall cost of rehabilitating the district which had been destroyed by the scourge of illegal farming was expected to amount to RM2.2 billion.
He said it was also agreed at the meeting that action would be taken against those who encroached river reserves as well as Public Works Department (PWD) road reserves in Cameron Highlands.
He added that under the "Ops Gading" Phase Two rehabilitation programme, the Forestry Department would plant trees in 30% of the jungle areas in an effort to green Cameron Highlands.
Ops Gading, which is coordinated by MKN, was launched in December 2014 and went on the whole of last year to eradicate increasing rampant illegal land encroachment and the influx of illegals in Cameron Highlands.
To date, Alias said Phase One of the operation had succeeded in demolishing 83% of illegal structures from 2,258ha of illegal agricultural areas while the balance 362ha were in various stages of investigation, adding that the involvement of nine key agencies in the operation had made it more impactful.
Alias said under Phase one of the operation, 98 investigation papers were opened on illegal farming and companies, of which 83 were investigated by the police and the rest by MKN.
"We are trying to determine if any foreign companies are involved in encroachment of land in Cameron Highlands. If so, they will be prosecuted and black-listed from entering Malaysia," he added.
Alias, however, said several areas where re-encroachment had taken place had been detected and MKN had begun an operation to demolish them while the farmers concerned had been given notice to demolish the rest.
"We gave them three months to carry out the demolition work themselves and some failed to do so. As such, we were forced to use powerful machinery which could climb to 1,570m above sea level to demolish the areas," he added.


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