SHAH ALAM (June 23): Deforestation or permanent removal of forests to make way for development projects is nothing new.
In fact, it has always been a hot topic of discussion and vigorous criticisms among the environmentalists, the affected residents and the media.
However, all calls for urgent action to stop deforestation, seem to fall on deaf ears.
One by one, the forest continues to be cleared and the land that was once full of greenery and home to a variety of animals and plants has now turned into a "concrete jungle".
Most recently, residents of Perdana Heights in Section U10 here expressed their frustration and concern as the forest area located some 200m away was being stripped, believed to be turned into a new residential area.
The housing project, allegedly to be implemented on the 20ha land in a forest reserve area, is expected to be completed in the next five years.
What’s puzzling the residents was that there was no notice issued by the authority about the project, and the developer, when questioned, insisted that they have obtained the green light to carry on with the project.
A check by Bernama found that the main entrance to the project site was perfectly sealed as if to prevent anyone, especially the nearby residents, to take a peek inside, but a peek from another angle proved that the deforestation activity was far worst than expected.
Now, it could be understood why the project had raised concern among the residents.
But one question still lingers - As no construction works are allowed during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, which began on March 18, then how come the deforestation activity could continue being carried out?
Speaking to Bernama, Perdana Heights Residents Association chairman Abd Hamid Othman, 70, said he was very disappointed that the authority, the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) in particular, which he claimed has failed to inform the public about the project, let alone to discuss it with the affected nearby residents.
“We want to meet with the MBSA to seek an explanation about this issue, and to find the best conservation solutions for the forest. We are also worried about possible landslides and wild animals which had suffered habitat loss due to the deforestation activity, such as tapir which came out at night, the boars, monkeys and colourful birds.
“And what would happen to our beautiful lake which changes its colour from green to brown at a certain point of time?,” chided Abd Hamid, who has been living in the area for the past 12 years.
Bernama was also made to understand that several non-governmental organisations (NGO) have been scrutinising the issue and would bring it up to higher authorities as the project site was said to be part of the Titiwangsa Range and forest reserve area.
Meanwhile, head of MBSA Corporate Communications and Public Relations Department Shahrin Ahmad, when contacted, refused to elaborate on the status of the land but said that it was approved for development.
“The planning permission, including to carry out land works in the area, was given by the MBSA. The land has an owner and was approved for development as a residential area or another project of the owner’s choice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meena Raman, when contacted. echoed the concern of the nearby residents as the application for planning permission involving hill cutting and forest conversion should not be approved without prior consultation with the residents.
“It is despairing to lose more and more green lungs to development. There is the longstanding issue of conversion of forests for development, including in this case.
“Due to the rapid development there, we are losing more and more forest and the residents’ quality of life will drop. As for the wildlife, their habitat will be destroyed and they would have nowhere to go. They will start wandering around and will probably end up being hit by cars,” she said.
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