CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Dec 6, 2015:
Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy said the proposal to build a RM450 million aerial tram across Cameron Highlands should connect only the main tourist towns.
He noted that it would also be pointless for tourists to park their cars in Habu or Kuala Terla as there were no hotels and very few tourist facilities there.
“Surely you don’t expect them to carry their luggage aboard the aerial tram all the way to Tanah Rata, Brinchang and Tanah Rata?
“As such, they would still need to drive all the way up and this would defeat the purpose of reducing traffic congestion in Cameron Highlands,” he told The Rakyat Post.
Ramakrishnan pointed out that there may not be much scenery to see as a great deal of forest had already been cleared to make way for farming.
He also lamented that the brownish rivers and lakes in Cameron Highlands were also highly polluted with rubbish and sediments, and tourists would not want to see that.
“The project must only proceed with a thorough and careful consideration of its impact on the natural environment.
“For example, can Cameron Highlands cope with the increase in tourist numbers as a result of the project ?
“The towns will require more hotels, restaurants and public infrastructure, including roads, car parks and lighting.”
A proposal to build a RM450 million aerial tram across Cameron Highlands, with five stations, has been mooted under the Cameron Highlands Local Plan 2030 Studies.
The 15km aerial tram network, estimated to cost an average RM30 million per km, would connect Kuala Terla, Sg Palas, Brinchang, Tanah Rata and Habu.
The five stations are estimated to cost another RM100 million.
The proposal is the work of the Federal Department of Town and Country Planning, which hopes the project will solve the notorious traffic congestion in Cameron Highlands during holidays and weekends.
Ramakrishnan further noted that the project would be futile in general without the state government gazetting Cameron Highlands as a tourism destination which would help control the spread of farming activities.
Several environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Reach, had proposed to the state government for Cameron Highlands to be gazetted as a tourism destination, but this fell on deaf ears.
Ramakrishnan expressed hope that the state government would be willing to listen to criticism of the proposal and the diverse opinions of local residents.
Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan said the state government did not rule out the possibility of a gazette.
“We are looking into it and there are legal matters which we must address,” he told reporters recently.