Thursday, May 8, 2008

Illegally Cleared Forest Will Not Be Turned Into Agriculture Land - Khalid

SHAH ALAM, May 7 (Bernama)

The Selangor government would not develop the 650 hectares of illegally cleared land in the Raja Musa and Tanjong Karang forest reserves for agriculture or any other purpose before bringing to book the culprits responsible, said Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

He said those who bought up the forest reserve land would not be allowed to continue any activity on the land, but the state government would provide legal assistance if they were cheated into buying the land and wished to take action against the sellers.

Tuesday, State Agriculture Modernisation, Natural Resource Management and Entrepreneur Development Committee chairman Yaakob Sapari, Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Swee Lim and a group of reporters visited the encroached forest reserve said to be the water catchment area for Tanjong Karang and Sekinchan, Selangor's rice bowl.

In Wednesday's newspaper reports, Ng was quoted as saying that the land where the trees had been illegally logged, had been sold in small lots at RM8,000 to RM8,500 per lot and told by the sellers that the lots had TOL (temporary occupation licence) status.

On the dispute between Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents and Grand Saga Sdn Bhd, the concessionaire for the Kajang-Cheras Highway, Abdul Khalid said a meeting would probably be held at the end of this month between the state government, Grand Saga and Public Works Department to resolve the issue.

Wednesday evening, residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras gathered to protest Grand Saga's action to put back the road barrier, preventing the residents from entering the highway from there.

Before this, the barrier had been destroyed, believed to be by some residents of the housing area.

Abdul Khalid said: "There will always be a crisis when one group of residents don't want to pay toll while the road concessionaire wants to collect enough toll.

"We will find out whether the land where the road barrier is located belongs to the state government. If it does, then the barrier cannot be put up there."

He said the state government must resolve the dispute through dialogue so that all parties could benefit from the privatisation of highway projects.

"It is understandable that privatisation of government projects is needed, but it should not burden consumers although the companies profit from these projects," he added.

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