The area which the Orang Asli claimed as their ancestral land in Ledang, near Johor Baru is actually a reserved land gazetted as Gunung Ledang Forest Reserve.
State Health and Environment Committee chairperson Ayub Rahmat said the 9,052.8-hectare land was gazetted on March 6, 1940 under the Johor State Government Gazette No 298.
"The area was also reserved as Johor National Park under Section 3(1) of the National Parks (Johor) Corporation Enactment 1989 and published in the Johor State Government Gazette No 2622 dated Oct 27, 2005, placed under the supervision of the Johor National Park Corporation director and his successors," he said in a statement in Johor Baru today.
On Monday, a group of Orang Asli from Kampung Tanah Gembur and Kampung Sungai Air Tawas filed a suit against the Johor government and three others to challenge the projects being carried out on area which they claimed to be their ancestral land since last November.
Besides the Johor government, the three other defendants named in the suit are project contractor Zila Maju Enterprise, Johor National Park Corporation director and the Malaysian government.
In the statement of claim, the Orang Asli stated they were never informed about the projects, involving construction of a perimeter fencing and digging works, in the area by any of the defendants.
The Orang Asli claimed that the action by the contractor had violated their rights to the ancestral land.
Ayub said the gazetting was carried out based on the Johor branch of the National Audit Department's report on the Johor National Park Management Studies in 2014.
A study by a consultant appointed by the Johor National Park Corporation, Gates IT Solution Sdn Bhd and a licensed surveyor, Sahabat Ukur Consultants, found that there were some areas in Johor National Park that had been encroached and turned into banana farms and rubber plantations.
In addition, the area had also being cleared and turned into an Orang Asli village (Kampung Sungai Mering), which is equipped with facilities like paved roads and electricity.
"Consequently, a proposed action to prevent the encroachment was agreed in the Johor National Parks Corporation Board of Directors meeting," he said.
Ayub said the state government had held meetings with the representatives of the Orang Asli, carried out patrols and installed signage at the respective areas.
In addition, security posts, safety fences and drainage along the border of the Orang Asli reserved land and Johor National Park had been built under the allocation of the Johor Economic Planning Unit.
On the claim that the implementation of the projects had deprived the Orang Asli of their source of income as their crops had been destroyed, Ayub said it was totally unfounded.
"There was no destruction, instead the natural forest areas which should be protected have been destroyed by the opening and exploration of land believed to have been carried out by the Orang Asli.
"The trees, which they claimed to be of hundreds of years old are actually not more than 10 years," he said.
Ayub said the state government had instructed the Johor National Park Corporation to stop the construction works until a collective solution is being achieved.
He added that a meeting would be held between the corporation and the Orang Asli soon.