Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Another Sad Day - Amendments to MPAJ 2020 Local Plan Approved

The month-long Klang Valley water crisis last year spurred the Selangor government to look for new sources of raw water, such as converting old mining ponds in Bestari Jaya into reservoirs.

And yet the Selangor government has approved the degazettement of106.65ha of the Ampang Forest Reserve, a pristine water catchment forest, for the construction of the EKVE.  Furthermore, the Selangor State Planning Committee, chaired by the MB, approved the amendments to the Local Plan MPAJ 2020, on 2 June 2015,  the final step in government approvals, giving the EKVE the green light to begin construction.

Forest reserves should not be viewed as a cheap or convenient source of land for highway concessionaires. It is, in fact, the costliest land as it provides environmental and ecological life support to the urban population, and it can never be replaced once destroyed – says Derek Fernandez, a lawyer and former Petaling Jaya councillor.

Given the important role of the affected areas as water catchment, the Anti-KIDEX group have also added their voice of support in questioning the Selangor government’s approval of this highway project.

The inclusion of the highway in the Ampang Jaya Local Plan now legally allows the project to proceed unhindered, as the local plan is a public declaration by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) that the project is be part of the municipality’s future development blueprint.

Some 200,000 residents in Ukay Perdana, Ampang, are also shocked that the Selangor state government has approved the changes to the alignment of the EKVE.  The Bukit Antarabangsa resident task force-EKVE said the 32 Residents' Associations within the enclave of Bukit Antarabangsa, Ukay Perdana, and Ukay Bistari are against the sudden approval of the design of the EKVE, which will now exit through their neighbourhood. Furthermore, it appears that the EKVE alignment through this area will take over land that has been reserved for LRT stations, leaving no space for future public transport.

The EKVE was awarded via direct tender to Ahmad Zaki Resources Berhad.  Given the push for increased public transportation, and the fragile state of the Klang Valley’s water supply, the Federal and Selangor State Governments must explain and justify why they support and approve the project.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kanching Recreational Forest

Kanching Recreational Forest is one of the oldest recreation forests in Malaysia.  The Kanching Recreational Forest is just a short drive from Templer Recreation Park, both in between Rawang and Selayang. Both sites are part of the larger forest spanning from Hulu Gombak – Kanching – Batang Kali – Genting Highlands region; and together with the Hulu Selangor – Fraser’s Hill – Bukit Kutu, and Ampang – Hulu Langat – Sungai Lalang regions, they form the Selangor State Heritage Park (Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor).

There are open car parking spaces available here in Kanching, with entry charge per person. The
main entrance of Kanching is a manicured park area, and includes a small souvenir shop and a surau.  As you walk towards the entryway arch into the forest, you will notice the changing rooms facility provided.  Inside the forest, there are a few toilets and some sheltered benches built nearby the waterfalls, but those stop after the top of the third waterfall.

So, enough with the “dry” facts, come to the Kanching Recreational Forest and enjoy the waterfalls and forest here!  The main attraction is the series of waterfalls that cascade through the forest.  The third waterfall, the Kanching Fall, forms a small pool for everyone to wade and swim in and is among the most popular of the swimming areas.  

At the fourth waterfall, you can enjoy the rushing torrent of the river.  Hike up further and enjoy more peaceful areas of the six and seventh waterfall areas.

Despite all this beauty, there is a lot of rubbish as well.  Please do your best to help keep it clean.  Even if you put the rubbish in the bins provided at Kanching, the monkeys tend to take it out and throw it around.  So it is best if you bring your rubbish HOME with you.

Kanching is a great place for picnics, and as a jaunt out of town and into nature.   It can be reached easily from KL city centre, by car via the Duke and Route 1, or you can take a taxi from Batu Caves as it is not far from there.  The KL-Rawang bus #43 from Central Market can take you there as well.   
Be forewarned though, it will be crowded with people, especially in the peak season, so come early!

Get a closer look at the area on this You Tube video:

As with any nature site, you visit it at your own risk.  Be careful at all times.  Always inform someone of where you are going and when you will be back.  Bring plenty of water. 

Kanching Falls. (2009, February). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Waterfalls of Malaysia: http://www.waterfallsofmalaysia.com/01kanching.php
Kanching Recreational Forest. (2014, August 18). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Selangor State Forestry Department: http://forestry.selangor.gov.my/index.php/en/recreational-forest/64-kanching-recreational-forest
Recreational Sites. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Treat Every Environment Special: http://www.trees.org.my/Programmes/Communities-for-Conservation/Taman-Warisan-Negeri-Selangor/Recreational-Sites
Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Treat Every Environment Special: http://www.trees.org.my/Programmes/Communities-for-Conservation/Taman-Warisan-Negeri-Selangor

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is the Fate of Our Water Catchment Forest?

Over the past few years, over 16,000 people have spoken up for the protection of Taman
The beautiful Ampang Forest Reserve
- part of Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor
Warisan Negeri Selangor, through the “Stop the EVKE Cutting Through the Selangor State Park” campaign.  However, the status of the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) and the Park remains unclear to the public.

While the DEIA for Phase 2, from Ukay Perdana interchange to the Karak interchange, was not approved, both phase 1 and 2 of the EKVE appears in the landuse section of the  “Laporan Tinjauan Kajian Rancangan Struktur Negeri Selangor 2035” (RSN 2035) and the ‘Proposed Amendments to the Rancangan Tempatan Ampang Jaya 2020’ (RTMPAJ 2020), despite the on-going objections from the public.  Furthermore, it was announced in February this year that EKVE Sdn Bhd. has received approval from the federal government to start work on the construction of the EKVE, with immediate effect.

Has the Selangor State Government agreed to degazette parts of the Ampang Forest Reserve to make way for the construction?  Before the area can be degazetted, there are 2 provisions under the National Forestry Act that need to be satisfied:

1. Is the area no longer needed for the purpose it was serving? 
2. Is the new land-use purpose of higher economic value than the current land use (i.e. water catchment)? 

The water crisis in early 2014 and the floods at the end of 2014 where deforestation played a big role, have both illustrated the importance of conserving our forests. With the state gazetting mining pools and river buffer zones for water catchment, it is hard to believe Selangor State Government can justify that the Ampang and Ulu Gombak forest reserves are no longer needed as ‘water catchment’ forests.  Also, there has been no independent economic evaluation of the ecological services this area provides – water catchment, clean air, protecting biodiversity, flood control, etc., to justify if the EVKE will be of higher economic value than the forest itself.

Furthermore, according to quotes by YB Tony Pua, conditions have been set out by the
Is this the fate of our water catchment forest?
Menteri Besar and the Selangor State Government before any new highway can be built in Selangor, including traffic impact studies, full transparency on the rate of return of the highway and the full disclosure of the concession agreement to the public.  Have these conditions been met with regards to the EKVE, as it would also be a 'new highway'?

The public, NGOs and resident groups have been voicing our objections to the EKVE cutting through the Park and jeopardising our water security at the recent
public hearings relating to the RSN 2035 and the RTMPAJ 2020.  But to date, we have not heard anything regarding the status of the expressway which will cut through pristine water catchment forests of Taman Warisan.   Will we only know the fate of our natural heritage when the bulldozers arrive?