Sunday, August 10, 2014

Protect Selangor’s precious water catchment forests




We, the Coalition for the Protection of the Selangor State Park*, refer to the recent article in the Sunday Star (3rd August, 2014) on the need to protect water catchment areas  and the interview with the Director General of Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department, Datuk Dr. Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim.

We welcome the views of Datuk Dr. Abdul Rahman on the proposed East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) which is set to traverse water catchment forests in Selangor. We believe highways should not be at the expense of forests. We concur with his opinion that public transportation should be improved instead of building highways and the loss of degazetting forests is too great.
It is ironic that even protected forest reserves are threatened with destruction. A case in point is the Ampang and Ulu Gombak water catchment forests, parts of which are proposed to make way for the EKVE. In 1999, the forests were reclassified as a water catchment forest, a category of protection forest under the National Forestry Act 1984. Due to the importance of the area, the forests were also gazetted as part of the Selangor State Park in 2007. Despite it being an environmentally sensitive area, decision makers allowed the proposal for the EKVE to go ahead in the area. The Federal government allowed the proposed developer to provide an alignment that would cut through the forests. Even prior to the preparation of a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA), the Selangor state government gave conditional approval for the alignment to traverse the forests.
Despite public objections in 2010, the proposed alignment through the forests was included in the Ampang, Selayang and Kajang Local Plans. Regardless of the many concerns raised on potential impacts on water catchment forests, rivers and streams, the DEIA was approved in 2013. This year, thousands of members of the public signed on to petitions to protest the proposed degazettement of parts of the forest reserves and urge the Federal and State governments to protect the Selangor State Park. We are left wondering if despite this, the EKVE will still proceed.
In a recent response to a question raised in the parliament regarding the EKVE, the Works Minister Datuk Fadhillah Yusof responded that the DEIA for the proposed project is approved and that the report has considered all the impacts. He said his ministry will work with local authorities to ensure the proposed project has minimum impact.
The DEIA will prescribe, in theory, measures to minimise the potential impacts. At this point, the question is neither about whether the DEIA has been approved nor if the impacts will be minimised. The question is whether a highway should be constructed at the expense of clearing and exposing our precious catchment forests to adverse impacts. The current water crisis in Klang Valley threatens to deteriorate further to a possible emergency situation. Clearing catchment forests will only compound an already dire situation. In our opinion it is not a risk worth taking.
It is still not too late to save the catchment forests. Irrespective of whether the DEIA is approved, the state government has the power, as the custodian of the state’s forests, to reject the proposed alignment cutting through the forests. The question is whether the state government will exert it’s authority in this matter and keep the promise made in the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor’s 13th General Elections Manifesto - to rehabilitate and conserve the states forests as major water catchment and green lungs.
Providing protection status to catchment forests and then degazetting parts of it to make way for a highway is meaningless. The EKVE may temporarily relieve the traffic problem for some, but ensuring Selangor’s water catchment forests are left intact will benefit thousands of residents in the Klang Valley. We strongly believe that allowing the EKVE to cut through the forests is definitely not in the public’s interest. The onus is on both the Federal and Selangor state governments to ensure the EKVE does not cut through the water catchment forests and the Selangor State Park. We call on both the Federal and state governments to ensure that our precious water resources are left intact.


* Members of the coalition are:   Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Save Our Sungai Selangor (S.O.S. Selangor), Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES), and the World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Questions Regarding the Proposed Degazettement of the Park and Forest Reserves and the Construction of the EKVE

Despite numerous and on-going objections, planning for the EKVE is moving steadily forward.  While the EKVE is a federal project, the Selangor State Government has given its approval in principle to the expressway cutting through the Park back in April 2010.  The DEIA was approved in April 2013.  In April 2014, the Department of Environment Selangor has stated that the Erosion Sedimentation Control Plan (ESCP) was approved by the DID Selangor and the Wildlife Plan was approved by PERHILITAN.  The DOE Selangor has said they are currently waiting for the project proponent to submit the final planning report – the Environment Management Plan.  Once the DOE Selangor receives the EMP, they expect to approve it within one month. 

Considering the construction of the East Klang Valley Expressway through the Selangor State Park will jeopardise the already fragile state of our existing water resources, we hope members of the State Government can clearly answer our questions:

1.    Can the State Government please inform the public hearing - exactly what stage is the project at?
-       What reports have been approved, what letters by the state have been given?
-       What reports and approvals that are yet to be done?

2.    What are implications of the degazettement and construction on the state’s authority and ability to enforce, monitor, oversee the degazetted area and have a say in the type of development allowed?

3.    What other developments are being targeted within the vicinity of area that is proposed to be degazetted for the EKVE?
High tension wires, petrol stations, rest stations, telecommunication towers, MRT line, housing?  Studies have shown that 95 percent of forest loss occurs within 50 km of a road.

4.    As the Landowner, has the State Government seen the concession agreement? What are the implications on the land based on the concession agreement? 
For example.
  1. The 50 year concession agreement -  Both the federal and state government have been silent about the concessionaire agreement. According to an email that received received from YB William (MP Selayang), Selangor State MPs and ADUNs has not seen it.  What is in the agreement and what other development is AZRB allowed to do – for example rest areas, petrol stations, administrative buildings, pipelines
  2. Will the concessionaire have the right to develop land along the expressway without any restrictions or restricted development – What are the conditions? 
eg Development of petrol stations, rest areas, buildings at toll plazas, pipelines
  1. What say will the State government have in the area, if it is degazetted, or after the highway is built?

5.    What are the Facts to Show that the Area Proposed for Degazettement and for the Construction of the EKVE Is No Longer Needed in Its Role as Forest Reserves and Water Catchment Forest? 

6.    How can the State Government justify jeopardising these water catchment forests that are protecting our existing water supply by degazetting the forest reserves and constructing the EKVE?

The Ampang Intake plant supplies 19 million litres of potable water per day to 9,225 accounts in the Ampang area. The Ulu Gombak forest reserve is a catchment for the Klang Gates Dam. The raw water from Klang Gates is piped to the Bukit Nanas Water Treatment Plant to be treated. The capacity of the treatment plant is 145 million litres per day (mld) providing water for 98 square kilometres of the City Centre.

The Selangor State Structure Plan states that all existing main raw water resources have been fully used. While we are now going to start importing water from the planned Kelau Dam in Pahang at huge costs financially and environmentally, this project will only supplement our existing water supply – not replace it. 


7.    What Are the Facts to Show that the EKVE Will Bring Greater Economic Benefit to the State as Compared to the Economic Benefits the Affected Area Is Already Bringing to the State as Water Catchment Forest?  What about the Negative Economic impacts that could result from the highway project?

The construction of a highway and its after effects will result in soil erosion that will affect our water quality. The US Forest Service economists have concluded that the value of non-extractive benefits (including clean water supply, clean air and outdoor recreation) far outweighs the value of extractive activities. By protecting pristine water catchment forests, the city of New York is saving USD$4billion a year in filtration costs alone. It would not be wrong to say the same would hold true for Malaysia.

Both the Ampang and Ulu Gombak forests are near pristine state with the rivers feeding the Ampang Intake Point and the Klang Gates Dam classified as Class 1 currently.  While the project proponent has proposed mitigation measures, the execution of these measures may not provide ecosystem sustainability in the long run.  It is a risk not worth taking.

The water crisis has had a negative economic impact on the revenues of numerous factories, businesses and shops. According to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), in a prolonged drought, the costs could be as much as RM15 million daily.  A total of 821 project applications have been put on hold as of the end of March in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya due to the shortage.  In the long term, this will affect the state’s image as a favourable investment hub, losing out to other states such as Johor that is rich in water.

The water crisis is also increasing other environmental issues that would have an adverse effect on the Selangor.  For example, during the water rationing, many shops and residences resorted to disposal packaging in the form of Styrofoam and plastic to deal with the lack of water.  This will lead to increases in the cost and problems associated with waste disposal in the state.



8.     Why is the Information on the Proposed Construction of the EKVE and Degazettement of the forest reserves and Park not Published on the State Forestry Department and State Government Website?

While the Selangor Forestry Department posted notices of the plans to degazette sections of the forest reserves, it was on an extremely limited basis, and information relating to the planned degazettement was also extremely limited.  Based on interactions with members of the public in Gombak and Hulu Langat, 80% of the people asked were not aware of the proposed expressway through the forests, and the plan to degazette parts of the forest reserves for the construction of the expressway. 

9.    Why did a representative of the State Exco state that no water catchment forests would be affected by Phase 1 of the EKVE?

State executive councillor for Youth, Sports and Public Amenities Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi said even though the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project was approved on April 25, the approval was limited only to 24.16km of the stretch extending from Sungai Long Interchange to Ukay Perdana Interchange, In reply to a question from Razaly Hassan (PAS-Dusun Tua),

"The state government has not granted approvals for the project covering the area of Gombak and the water catchment areas," he said at the state assembly sitting.”

Phase 1 of the EKVE will cut through the Ampang Forest Reseve.  The Ampang Forest Reserve is gazetted as a water catchment forest the Forestry Department.  The Ampang Forest Reserve has been listed as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) since the Draft Structure Plan for Ampang came out in 1996(8).

10.  Phase 2 is an inevitable outcome of constructing Phase 1 of the EKVE, this was stated by a representative of State Exco(below)  Will this area also undergo degazettement?

While the DOE has stated that Phase 2 of the EKVE has not been approved, YB Iskandar Abdul Samad, the chairman of Housing, Building and Urban Settler Management Committee has been quoted saying:

Another suggestion is to end the highway in Ukay Perdana and upgrade the roundabout there but according to Iskandar, the expressway will lose its purpose if it did not connect to the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa area.”

This implies that the State government is willing to allow the expressway also run through a second water catchment forest – the Ulu Gombak water catchment forest.


11.  How is the EKVE inline with Selangor State Government’s Push for Sustainable Transport & Development?


Monday, June 23, 2014

Objections to the Proposed Degazettement and Construction of the EKVE Through the Selangor State Park and Other Forest Reserves

Supporting information on our objections:

Please read the objection letter to the PM and MB for more facts supporting our objection to the proposed degazettement and construction of the EKVE through the Selangor State Park and other forest reserves

















Protect Our Water Supply:
According to S. Piarapakaran, president of the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER), “Pollution and the failure to protect water resources and catchment areas are the root cause of the current water crisis: 


In addition, the Selangor State Structure Plan states that all existing main raw water resources have been fully used. 

The Ampang and Ulu Gombak forest reserves serve as water catchment forests for major areas in the Klang Valley. The Ampang Intake plant supplies 19 million litres of potable water per day to 9,225 accounts in the Ampang area. The Ulu Gombak forest reserve is a catchment for the Klang Gates Dam. This dam reportedly supplies water to 80,000 households and business premises in the Klang Valley.  The EKVE will impact both these catchment areas, as well as 5 water intake points that are feed by these catchment forests.

So why have both the Federal Government and Selangor State Government approved the EKVE cutting through the Selangor State Park, Selangor’s Water Tower. Have we not learned anything from the earlier water crisis? Shouldn’t we be doing all we can to protect our existing water resources?

Develop Sustainable Transport Solutions:
Thank you, Dr Kua Kia Soong, for providing another voice of reason on what seems to be an illogical proposal to degazette critical water catchment forests. 

“This East Klang Valley Expressway is simply one highway too many. I invite all concerned Malaysians who care about a sustainable quality of life that respects the natural environment, to stand up and call for a halt to this highway madness.


A sustainable solution that ensures both the preservation of Malaysian nature and enables ease of mobility for majority of urban dwellers lies in creating an effective integrated public transport system, and not endless highways and tunnels for the driving pleasure of the middle and upper class.”


Protect Our Wildlife and Biodiversity:
With wildlife routinely ending up as roadkill when roads cut through forest reserves, warning signs have been put up warning motorists of wildlife crossing the road. One example is the sign outside the Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Centre.  Unfortunately, our wildlife can't read road signs. 

While the destruction of habitat is the greatest threat to wildlife in Malaysia, poaching is another grave threat that can decimate local populations of wildlife in forests. The EKVE will provide easy access to the forest it cuts through. Help our wildlife by objecting to the EKVE. 

“100 points along East-West Highway for illegal hunters to enter Belum, Temenggor forests.  EASY access into the Royal Belum state park and Temenggor forest reserve along the East-West Highway has allowed poachers to make a killing on the country's rich wildlife” – The NST, 24 Dec 2012
Read More:



“Sun Bear carcass and snare find point to relentless poaching in Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. Poaching for trade is clearly the most chronic threat to Malaysia’s wildlife. The rising incidences close to the highway should be warning enough that poachers enjoy easy access to the animals” – WWF Malaysia website, 28 Jan 2014





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