By YIP YOKE TENG
Photos by SAM THAM
A VISIT to the recently reopened Taman Rimba Ampang gives a good idea of the possible environmental impact the proposed East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), the final route of the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR), may have.The park was closed for about a year for a major clean-up and to repair amenities damaged by serious flooding in March last year, which also inundated two villages nearby.Broken roads and paved paths, rotting trunks lying across the river in which children play and a gazebo is sloping down dramatically due to soil movement are all too common.This extensive damage happened when the trees on the hills around Sungai Ampang were still intact. As such, the prospect of a highway being built right though these hills was undeniably worrying.Environmental groups are not convinced by the Detailed Environ-mental Impact Assessment (DEIA) done by UKM Pakarunding Sdn Bhd, which was commissioned by EKVE Sdn Bhd, the project proponent.The company is a subsidiary of Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd which signed the RM1.55bil concession agreement with the Works Ministry for the design, construction, completion, operation, management and maintenance of the stretch.It was reported that the concession period is 50 years.Environmental groups were surprised that the Environment Department (DoE) in Putrajaya approved the said DEIA about a month ago.They felt that the approval was “done irregularly” in a meeting in which NGOs, including the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), which was on the panel, were not invited.
Environmentalist Lim Teck Wyn said a petition with more than 3,000 signatures of residents and park visitors had been submitted during the DEIA’s public viewing period but it was still approved.
“The primary concern here is that the highway will cut through the Selangor State Park gazetted in 2005 in conjunction with its Developed State status. The state park was classified as Rank 1 Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) under the National Physical Plan and accorded the highest status of protection.
“If this is the kind of thing we do to a heritage site, we do not deserve developed state status,” said Lim.
To make their voices heard, MNS, WWF-Malaysia, Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) and Save Our Rivers (SOS) have formed the Coalition for Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor recently. Lim is its adviser.
The Ampang Forest Reserve that falls within the state park would be affected, Lim pointed out.
He added that the DEIA had left out the forest reserve’s boundaries, which would show the impact more clearly.
“Part of the highway is right next to Sungai Ampang in the upstream.
“This is also the Ampang water catchment area and the source of Sungai Klang, which the River of Life project is striving to rehabilitate. What’s the point of cleaning Sungai Klang when its source is not protected?” said Lim.
He pointed out that the river was crystal clear some 10 years ago.
“Natural landslides upstream have made the water murky now, just imagine how the construction will affect water quality,” he said.
The NGOs also felt that the erosion preventive measures suggested in the DEIA would not reduce its harmful impact much. They insisted on re-aligning the highway and wanted to be on the panel that would oversee this.
“The erosion modelling used by the DEIA had not taken into consideration the increased risk of flooding shown in the past few years."
“The highway planning also did not look at the additional highways we have in Kuala Lumpur and MyRapid Transit, it is still based on a study done in the 1990s.
“Furthermore, instead of building this highway, why not just build an elevated MRR2 since they are connecting the same places?” Lim queried.
He said the groups acknowledged that a stretch of the earlier proposed alignment that would affect the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge was not approved.
“However, there is no guarantee that it will not happen in the future. We fear that once the highway goes through, the whole forest will be opened up for development.”
Lim urged the federal and state governments to consult the public whenever a forest reserve would be affected.
“The state government has made a ruling to protect forest reserves but it has not been fully adhered to, look at what happened in the Kanching Forest Reserve.
“Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has said that Kedah is willing to forgo timber revenue.
“If Kedah can do it, Selangor should be the one leading the way,” said Lim.
---------------------------------------Source: The Star Wrath of environmentalists