Friday, November 23, 2007

Another portion of Ampang forest to be cleared

Malaysian Assurance Alliance (MAA) is seeking approval to develop some 62.5 acres of forest running from Menara Mutiara in Taman Tun Abdul Razak to Jalan Ulu Klang. The proposed development includes 460 units of shop-offices and 149 bungalow lots.

The development is on the same ridge with the same unstable soil and rock that caused the collapses of the Highland Towers condominium in 1993 and the home of former Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Gen. (Ret) Tan Sri Ismail Omar in Taman Hillview in 2002.

The land on the proposed site, however, is even steeper with 70 percent having slopes higher than 20 degrees. According to the Selangor State Structure Plan, this land is 'high risk' (meaning prone to erosion and landslides) and according to Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ or Ampang Jaya Municipal Council), the local authority's structure plan, it is 'environmentally sensitive' and thus should not be developed.

The developer intends to cut down the trees, cut off the tops of hills, blast out large boulders (the developer's report shows 216,875 cubic metres of rock will be blasted), fill up the valleys with the cut earth, put up a number of large retaining walls (the highest 20 metres) in order to level the land and produce platform building lots. In 'environmentally sensitive' areas, this 'cut and fill' approach to preparing land for development and using 'blasting' to remove boulders, contravene both the Selangor State and MPAJ Structure Plans.

Although the Jabatan Alam Sekitar or the Department of Environment states that no development will be allowed in areas where there are existing bodies of water, it is clear that MAA plans would disrupt the flow of natural streams in the development area, undermining the stability of the soil. This can lead to serious landslides and was a factor in the Highland Towers tragedy.

On 8th February 2006, the MPAJ gave conditional approval for this project.

Legal Counsel representing a group of area residents who have been working over the past three years to ensure that any development on the above sites is consistent with the Selangor State and MPAJ Structure Plans, filed an appeal and on the 27th Dec 2006, the Appeal Board ruled that the MPAJ had to hold a new hearing . Two hearings were held - on 5th March 2007 and again on 26th Sept. 2007. In spite of engaging lawyers for the hearings, it appears that MPAJ may approve this latest application for development.

The topography of the lush green hills will be completely destroyed, along with the flora and fauna found in this habitat.

The authorities must be reminded that several previous landslides along the Ulu Klang hills occurred as a result of collapsing retaining walls. The most recent is the disaster at Kampung Bukit Pasir /Zooview in May 2006.

The authorities should not blame "Act of God" if rapid erosions resulting in floods and landslides causing injuries and even deaths to surrounding neighbourhoods, due to the development, if approved.


1 comment:

darma mohammad said...