Last month, there was a lot in the papers about the tragedy in Hulu Langat, due to another series of landslides (two landslides occurred simultaneously), that claimed 16 lives, many of them young boys living at the al-Taqwa orphanage.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who died, to the families who remain, and to all those who are suffering as a result of the tragedy.
This tragedy raises several concerns, many of them are not new…
From information gathered in the newspapers an estimated 58 housing estates in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor situated in hilly areas face the risk of landslides, based on a Public Works Department (PWD) study last year, in 2010.
According to the papers, the study shows that all 58 housing estates are situated within four local council areas, namely Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ), Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) and Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).
The highest number of areas at risk, 39, are listed under MPAJ. Among the areas sited as highest risk include Bukit Antarabangsa, Taman Melawati, Kampung Pasir, Taman Wangsa Ukay, Ukay Heights, Ukay Perdana, Kampung Tengah, Taman Keramat and Sering Ukay.
Based on the disappointing outcome of the Highland Tower court case, it was re-affirmed, in court, that the local councils cannot be held liable for any tragedy that may result from the council’s approvals of any development.
This is why so many of the residents in these areas are very concerned when new developments are proposed/constructed at the slopes behind or near to their existing homes. This is another reason why so many residents are concerned about the alignment of the KL Outer Ring Road as well - the dangers the highway itself may create, and the urban development that will surely follow the highway. The highway will be passing through the MPAJ area. The alignment of the proposed highway is near or adjoining areas with the highest number of developments at risk for future landslides including Bukit Antarabangsa and Taman Melawati , as stated in the Public Works study. Knowing the dangers of the area, why is the federal government still planning a highway here? And who will be responsible if there are future tragedies due to the highway?
Another point of concern is that the al-Taqwa orphanage was built without approval from authorities. At the time it was built, about 15 years ago, there were no requirements to apply for building approvals, as the structure was built on agricultural land.
Have the laws and requirements been amended so that approval required today? Most of the very steep and loose terrain that forms the foot-slopes of the Klang Gates area is still classified as agricultural land, with many single title land owners.
Given the hazardous terrain, the fact that the Ridge is now gazetted as part of the Selangor State Park and has been (somewhat) recognised as a geological wonder, is MPAJ or other state authorities keeping an eye on developments the area?