Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not Wise to Prioritise Traffic Over Water Supply

In response to the following article:  Selangor Times - ORR to go Underground

Human activities in Selangor, KL and Putrajaya, as well as development along the borders of adjoining states, are putting tremendous pressure on the Park.  The proposed alignments of the KL Outer Ring Road, a major pressure on the Park, will jeapordise the critical functions the Park plays, particularly in water catchment and biodiversity.

A major portion of the Park has slopes greater than 25 degrees (class 3 slopes), with a significant area also greater than 35 degrees (class 4).  Furthermore, nearly the entire Park area can be classified a ‘very high’ soil erosion risk.  These areas, vulnerable to soil erosion and landslides especially during periods of prolonged rainfall, makes the Park unsuitable for development.

In 2005, JKR (Public Works Dept) announced 100 geo-hazard areas in Peninsular Malaysia, and the Ulu Klang mountain range – located within the Park - was one of the localities.  In fact, there have been about 8 major landslides since 1998 along the Ampang-Ulu Gombak forests around the Park – Highland Towers and the Genting Road being two of the great tragedies.

It is appalling that the KLORR project is going ahead despite the many objections raised by the residents and NGOs.   To-date little information is available on this massive project.  The detailed plans for the proposed road should be made easily available to the public immediately to study thoroughly.

A 200 metre tunnel to protect the Klang Gates Ridge is not enough.  The Selangor State Park is the main source of Selangor, Putrajaya and KL’s water supply.  This year there have been numerous articles in media quoting both Federal and State governments regarding a pending water shortage in Selangor.  It has been said that the current water sources in Selangor will not be able to provide enough water for its needs in the near future.  At the same time the Federal government is spending RM10 billion for the Pahang Selangor Water Transfer project to help meet the projected water demands. 

If this is the case, NGOs and residents are unable to understand the rationale behind the proposed KLORR, a major highway that will cut through the Park, specifically two water catchment areas, the Ulu Gombak Forest Reserve and Ampang Forest Reserve.  The Klang Gates Dam and the Ampang Intake that are fed by these two catchments supply water to the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur, the international face of the nation and the commercial, shopping and entertainment hub.

We are unable to accept that alleviating traffic congestion is more important than protecting the state’s and federal territories’ water supply.

There are many solutions to the traffic problem including an integrated and efficient public transport system and upgrading of the existing roads.   What we need to do is to think outside the box rather than rely on old solutions that are short term with adverse environmental impacts.

It is also very disappointing to learn that the Town and Country Planning Department is supporting the project despite the road cutting through the Selangor State Park.   The department was the key government agency pushing for the establishment of the Park in partnership with TrEES   The proposed road also contradicts the department’s policy based on Agenda 21 Selangor and the National Physical Plan that were produced by the department.

TrEES will continue to oppose the project as we believe protecting the water supply for the present and future generations is more important than alleviating traffic congestion.  Selangor is currently self-sufficient in water.  Why does the state want to move from self- sufficiency to being dependant on other states to meet its water needs? 

We will continue to pressure the government at all levels to ensure that Selangor’s water supply is not jeopardised.  The state and federal government should also seek feedback from the residents on what can be done to alleviate the traffic problem besides building the KLORR. 

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