Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Alignment Continues to Threaten Water Security

From the NST

Judging from media reports, it appears that the KLORR will now cut through the Hulu Gombak Forest Reserve, in addition to the Ampang Forest Reserve, both of which are water catchment forests gazetted as part of Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor.

Under the original alignment of the highway, the KLORR was going to cut through the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge and run over the Klang Gates Dam.  This alignment was criticized by residents and environment organizations for many reasons.  Two prime reasons were the globally unique ridge, and the other was water security.

Reports seem to indicate the building of a tunnel in the vicinity of the Ridge of which the impact on the Ridge is unknown.  The new alignment still poses a very real threat to water security for Kuala Lumpur and in fact increases the threat.  The Hulu Gombak Forest Reserve, which earlier was not affected by the KLORR, now appears to be cut through by the expressway.

It is often mistakenly thought that keeping land in their original forested state is lost economic opportunities that could have been gained by “developing” the forest into something more usable by people. 

Studies have shown that economically speaking, if the water from a forest catchment is supplied to the local population, the best land use option for the forested area was protection, as opposed to use for purposes such as timber extraction, or building a road.

These studies have shown that the benefits of clearing the forest were lower than the additional costs of water treatment.  The removal of forests will increase the sedimentation in the rivers due to heavy soil erosion on the steep slopes, and increase the levels of pollution of the rivers due to road run-off – increasing costs for water treatment, possibly even jeopordising the ability to treat the water at all. 

Over the years, the state government has felt the Hulu Gombak forest reserve was a critical water catchment area, so much so that the area has been triple gazetted – as ‘state park’ and ‘water catchment’ under the National Forestry Act, Selangor Enactment, as well as ‘water catchment’ under the Selangor Waters Management Authorities  Enactment 1999.
Furthermore, it is even more disheartening to learn that the new alignment is purported based on the concerns raised by residents and NGOs.  The new alignment does nothing to reduce these concerns.  Claiming that the new alignment does address our concerns is very misleading.

Keeping the Selangor State Park in its natural forested state is actually saving the country billions of ringgit through the services the Park provides to the country, for free.  The KLORR will result in profits that will really benefit only a few.

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