By Vijenthi Nair, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Brian Moh and Henry Goh
The waiting game for Bukit Kiara to be gazetted as a green lung continues.
Although it has been more than three months since a stop-work order was issued to all development work in Bukit Kiara, there has been no news on its green lung status — a cause that Bukit Kiara stakeholders have been fighting for a long time.
There was a public outcry on the damage caused by the construction of a perimeter fencing undertaken by the National Landcape Depart-ment (JLN). The fence was part of a project to demarcate the park.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung had suggested at a public discussion in Bangunan Bakti on July 31 that Bukit Kiara would be gazetted in phases as part of the land had been leased.
This was to instil confidence among the public that Bukit Kiara would remain a green lung, after the erection of the perimeter fencing had caused rumours of future developments.
During the session, Chor had also promised to work closely with Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) and other NGOs to repair the damage done by the construction of the perimeter fencing.
Recently, StarMetro revisited Bukit Kiara and found the 3.5m-high fence along a 4.7km stretch was about 80% completed before the project was brought to a halt on July 31.
However, the fence had shown some damage caused by a fallen tree. Other unsightly views included large tree trunks blocking a water outlet and a tarpauline covering a slope with signs of soil erosion.
When contacted, FoBK chairman Liew KhooiCheng said they have been pushing for JLN to remove the fence and the damage was proof that the fence was prone to damage and not a permanent solution to demarcate the park or deter illegal rubber tapping and settlers.
JLN will also have problems maintaining the fence. Some parts of the fence are erected on steep slopes which are prone to erosion due to soil loosen during construction work. New trees have started growing close to the fence.
How will JLN monitor and maintain the fence since the surrounding is unpredictable?” he questioned.
Liew said JLN had called for a meeting on Oct 19 to explain the need for the fence in the presence of organisations that have endorsed the project such as the police, Immigration Department, Land Office and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
However, FoBK remained insistent that the fence needed to be removed as soon as possible for animal mobility and to preserve the forest in its most natural state.
Last week, FoBK sent a letter to JLN reaffirming its stand on the removal of the fence and proposed eco-related precautions.
We also objected to their proposal of clearing part of the park to accommodate 200 parking bays,” he said.
Meanwhile, Selangor Malaysia Nature Society chairman Henry Goh said the additional parking bays would not solve the parking problem permanently and that it was unnecessary to build it at the expense of some beautiful trails.
Park-goers will have to find parking space elsewhere.
The authorities should instead look at increasing enforcement and consistent monitoring in Bukit Kiara and its vicinity as a long-term solution to their problems.
There was no need to invest millions of Ringgit to secure the area only for it to be effective for a short period he said.
Goh added that JLN appointed contractors were currently installing gabion walls (retaining walls made of stone-filled cages tied together with wire) at certain areas as a precautionary measure to prevent erosion.
We appreciate JLN’s efforts to preserve Bukit Kiara but we are still anticipating the hill to be gazetted, he concluded.
JLN could not be reached for comments.
Berjaya Corporation Bhd’s (BCB) proposed Eco Village development next to the Bukit Kiara park, will still need stakeholders’ approval before any work commences.
Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib said this in a meeting with Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bukit Damansara residents’ associations on Wednesday.
He added that City Hall would inform the stakeholders and engage with them of any proposed development plans put forward by BCB.
Phesal also said that it is crucial that a development plan is agreed upon by all parties, so that City Hall can proceed with the gazettement of the KL Draft City Plan 2020.
Currently, the Bukit Kiara park is not gazetted as a green lung. We hope to reach a decision soon on what development is to take place in the area, so that we will be able to gazette the draft plan next year,” he said.
As for leasing out the land to BCB, Phesal said nothing could be done now because the court had given a judgment in BCB’s favour.
“In 1994, an agreement was reached between City Hall and BCB to lease out 25ha of land around the park. They have been paying the premium and land tax since.
“We took the matter to court to cancel the agreement, but we had lost the case. Now, we have no choice but to sign the 70-year lease,” he said.
Phesal said City Hall had managed to get BCB to give back 4.8ha of land, which will be included as part of the Bukit Kiara park.
“I was supposed to sign the lease a month ago, but had delayed the process to discuss for more open space. BCB will be developing 6ha as landscape and the remaining 5.6ha will be the built-up area” he said.
Phesal also suggested that BCB include more green development as part of its project.
BCB executive director Zurainah Musa who was present at the meeting said the proposed development will not encroach on the Bukit Kiara park.
She said BCB had proposed to build an eco hospital with 150 beds, 162 units of serviced residences and a multipurpose hall with 400 parking bays and an international school.
“The mayor had suggested that we go for more green development. All the development we proposed will not be more than four storeys high. As a responsible developer, we aim to keep the area green,” she said.
Zurainah also said that BCB will work together with all stakeholders to reach an amicable decision on the development plans.
“We are also looking at more green development, that is why we have taken the mayor’s suggestions to have a low density project in the area,” she said.
TTDI Residents’ Association chairman Mohd Hatim Abdullah said they had agreed for City Hall to sign the lease.
“We understand that City Hall has no choice but to sign the lease as ruled by the court. We have also accepted the fact that BCB needs to develop the area as they have been paying the premium and land tax.
“We hope that City Hall will engage with us on any changes to the development plans by BCB,” he said.
Bukit Damansara Residents’ Association deputy chairman Datuk Pang Leong Hoon said they want the area to remain green.
“We also agree with the signing of the lease but by calling it Eco Village doesn’t mean it is a green development” he said.
Earlier this year fencing, believed to be put up by National Landscape Department, in the Bukit Kiara area was done to demarcate the private from the public land.