Cameron Highlands is falling apart.
On the surface (on a non-peak season day) everything is calm and serene.
Farmers wake up bright and early in the morning and have breakfast in their favourite food stalls before proceeding to their farms.
The smell of chicken dung permeates the air as their trusty Land Rovers pass by.
Locals go about their daily business, sending kids to school, going to the banks and markets.
Later in the morning, buses and lorries arrive from the lowlands while lorries laden with vegetables and flowers leave the Camerons.
At night the eateries on the main streets are filled with foreign tourists, hungry after a day of jungle trekking.
But trouble lurks beneath the surface. All is not well.
The waters that flow in our drinking water supply system is contaminated.
How can it not be when the water catchment areas are filled with farms? On Grade 3 and 4 slopes earth is loosened because of man's disturbance, just waiting to cascade down after heavy rains.
More than three-quarters of Cameron Highlands have erosion rates of more than 150 tons/ha/year so landslide disasters are just a matter of time.
Bordering the orang Asli settlement in Sg Ruil is a development that has resulted in so much silt into the neighbouring areas that it has caused much misery to the Orang Asli folks.
Come peak season, pandemonium breaks out.
The traffic jams here are so horrendous that it can even put the traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur to shame.
It takes more than two hours to travel a mere 5km from Kea Farm to Brinchang.
Heaven help you if any of your family members is in labour or is very sick and you are stuck in the jams.
Look a little further to the surrounding villages and you can see heavy machinery dotting the cleared hills like little ants in a hurry, burying our forest treasures alive even before they can be recorded.
Hundreds of acres of montane forests have been destroyed and hundreds more await the same fate in the coming months especially in Blue Valley, Kampung Raja, Kuala Terla, Manson Valley, Ringlet and Bertam Valley.
How can this happen when the highlands are not only protected by guidelines but also by laws such as the Land Conservation Act 1960? The answer is obvious to all.
Greed and corruption runs uncontrolled in Cameron Highlands.
From the top to the bottom.
A clear example is the land clearing in Manson Valley now.
How can there be new TOLs ( temporary occupation license) when in 2008 the state government states that no more new TOLs will be issued?
Is this a TOL layang or TOL rekaan? How can land permits be issued on fake TOLs?
Even if the TOLs are genuine the conditions stated in the land clearing permits have to be adhered to.
Failure to adhere to these conditions constitutes violations of the Land Conservation Act 1960 so why are the perpetrators allowed to continue their land clearing.
Who are the signatories to these land clearing permits? Why are their names not written down on the permits?
Another example of violation of the land laws is the recent deforestation of land in the heart of Tanah Rata , just behind Slim camp and bordering the forestry department.
It can be seen from the main road.
Even after police complaints have been made the perpetrators continue with their illegal land clearing as they had protection from the higher ups.
To us, it is Harap pagar, pagar makan padi (betrayed by the protector).
We have submitted official complaints to the Menteri Besar of Pahang but till today no action has been taken.
please visit our webpage for our open letter to the Menteri Besar of Pahang and more pictures.
RAMAKRISHNAN RAMASAMY is president of Reach.