Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the National Security Council (NSC) will continue its role as the leading agency in Cameron Highlands to coordinate and implement the 4th series of the operation. (pix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR)

PUTRAJAYA:The high-level committee meeting on illegal cultivation and restoration of Cameron Highlands has decided that 'Op Gading', an operation aimed at combating illegal land encroachment activities, should be continued.

This was among four other matters concluded in the meeting today.

In a statement today, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the National Security Council (NSC) will continue its role as the leading agency in Cameron Highlands to coordinate and implement the 4th series of the operation.

This will be done in an integrated manner with the cooperation from federal agencies and state agencies, he added.

Apart from this, the meeting also decided the remnants of aluminum, iron and wood waste from the make-shift plastic houses located in permanent forest reserve, which was destroyed in the previous 'Op Gading', must be cleared as soon as possible," he added.

"We have also decided that the Armed Forces and police helicopters will also be used in the air surveillance and operations during natural disasters, if needed," he added.

Finally, as per the order of the Regent of Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, Zahid said the army's sub-units would be stationed permanently in Cameron Highlands.

"This is for the purpose of enforcement against illegal encroachment or trespassing on government land. At the same time, this would also eradicate the presence of illegal immigrants. This would be carried out in 'Op Gading IV'," he added.

Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the government has spent a total of RM246.5 million to preserve Cameron Highlands via Op Gading operations since 2014.

"The amount is including RM88 million spent by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) for its project to deepen dams in the highlands, to prevent flooding.

"This clearly shows that the federal and state government are committed to preserve the highlands as famous tourist destination. This would also contribute the country's economy through sustainable agriculture activities," he added.

He added that the implementation of Op Gading I, II, and III have been successful in curbing illegal encroachment and in making sure flood mitigation and river cleaning efforts are carried effectively to prevent mud floods and landslides.

Zahid added Cameron Highlands reforestation programmes at permanent forest reserve areas were carried out effectively whereby Temporary Occupation License (TOL) were given to eligible farmers at areas which have been cleared of encroachment.

"By doing so, it will help farmers who depend on their agriculture yield to support their family," he added.

Cooperation between the federal and state government in this operation had also made sure that foreign workers are employed in a proper and systematic way, to ensure agriculture yield are not affected in the long run, he added.

"As a whole, Cameron Highlands's recovery action through Op Gading in last year, was a success and achieved the operations' objective," he added.

Adding further, Zahid said a hillslope mitigation project worth RM1.15 million at the Sungai Tiang Orang Asli settlement is currently underway and expected to be completed in February.

"With this project, 13 houses comprising 28 Orang Asli families in Sungai Tiang will not have to move at their current residence will be safe for occupancy," he added.

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