Ampang folks stand firm against forest encroachment

Ampang residents yesterday flocked the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) hall to convey a clear message- Selangor State Park must not be compromised for the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR).

They voiced out their opinions during a public hearing which was chaired by Selangor Housing Exco Iskandar Samad, with 25 residents protesting against the KLOOR that is set to plough through Hulu Gombak, Ampang and Hulu Langat Forest Reserves.

They claimed the highway that connects Templer’s Park in Rawang, Karak Highway and the Silk highway will pose a severe threat to the largest forest reserve in the state.

The residents urged the Selangor state government to consider an alternative route and veto any proposal that is against conserving the environment.

Komunitikini understands that the highway project was introduced by Federal Government, although the Selangor state government still plays a pivotal role in approving the project.

NGO Treat Every Environment Special (Trees) director Leela Panikkar asked both the Federal and State governments to recall the objectives of gazeting the three forests together as the Selangor State Park in back 2007.

She said the forests are environmentally sensitive areas, and also serve as an important water source for the entire Klang Valley.

The 914.41 sq km forest park houses two major water catchments, the Klang Gates Dam and Taman Rimba Ampang that remain uncontaminated until today thanks to the forest surroundings, said Leela.

However, the upstream location of KLORR will be crossing numerous rivers and streams, making the dams vulnerable to pollution.

“In the last few months we were hearing that Selangor must spend RM10 million to transfer water from Pahang to avoid shortage, but now they want to damage the most prestigious water sources by cutting through the forest,” she said.

“What is the logic of this?” she added further in dismay.

The woman, who also rallied behind the declaration of the Selangor State Park warned the risks of cutting down trees to build KLORR.

“By opening up the forest it will cause soil erosion and will increase the amount of flowing water. However, Klang Gates Dam is an ageing dam and could not afford such an overflow,” she explained.

“The consequences will be dire. It will be a man-made disaster if the dam bursts one day,” she warned.

NGO Malaysian Nature Society honorary secretary Lim Teck Wyn urged the authorities not to diminish the nature for a highway that does not connect to any high-density areas.

“Along the east side of the highway from Rawang to Hulu Langat, there isn’t a single residential area,” he said.

Lim

He also pointed out that KLORR will pass through the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge, the longest quartz ridge in the world.

“It will spoil the view of the place,” he said.

Local assemblyperson Jenice Lee, while supporting a reroute plan for the highway, stressed that public transportation should be improved in the first place.

“Building new highway will only have a minimal impact in easing daily congestion,” she said.

Closing the hearing, Iskandar said that all the feedbacks garnered will be presented during the State Planning Committee’s meeting.

He said the Selangor government has proposed three alternative routes to the highway contractor, but admitted that none of these can completely bypass the forest reserves.

“A geological consultant has been engaged to study the environment impact; anyway we will weigh the pros and cons before we finalize everything,” he said.

He added that the decision could be expected by January 2011.

It was reported that works on the western route of KLORR, which connects Rawang to Karak Highway, has already commenced.