CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Nov 16 – The relocation of residents occupying the river banks and river reserves especially in Lembah Bertam, Ringlet where landslides and mud flood hit the area recently is made difficult by the residents’ refusal to move to a new area. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said although a new settlement could be created for these residents with government assistance, the residents just refused to move out from where they were staying now.
“So, it’s difficult for us to prevent them from becoming victims of another disaster like what happened recently. “We cannot force them to move out as they have temporary occupation licence for the land on which they are staying now. The issue is, they are staying on river banks, but if they want to stay there, let them stay.”
Palanivel said this at the Ringlet community hall, here, today after handing out a contribution of RM1,000 to each of the 33 families hit by the recent mud flood in Cameron Highlands. However, he said, he still planned to identify a suitable new area and to set up a 1Malaysia People’s Housing Project (PR1MA) for residents staying on river banks and river reserves and to persuade them to move to the housing scheme.
Palanivel said he would also discuss with the Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan (Cina) Lembah Bertam management on the proposed relocation. Asked on claims that the local authorities did not cooperate with the federal government and in fact created difficulties in enforcing the law, he declined to elaborate other than saying that he could not take responsibility for the state government or the local authorities’ actions.
In the 6.30pm incident on Nov 5, residents living on the banks of Sungai Bertam were ordered to move out when water from the Sultan Abu Bakar Dam was released in stages after the water level rose following heavy rain. Ringlet town was hit by landslides and a mud flood when water from a nearby river overflowed after one hour downpour. Five people died and five others were injured in the disaster, which also affected 203 residents from 47 families in Kampung Baru and Bertam Valley who were evacuated to the Ringlet community hall.