Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ban on development projects on hillslopes - The Star

Jun 10, 2008 By SALINA KHALID

THE Selangor government has put a cap on applications for new development projects on hillslopes in the state.

The ruling covers projects on slopes that have a gradient of 25° and above, technically referred to as Class 3 and Class 4 slopes.

All the projects approved by the previous state government are, however, allowed to continue but under strict monitoring by the authorities.

“The projects were approved by the previous state government and it is our duty to monitor them,” Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said.

Khalid said the new measure was part of efforts to make the state a greener, cleaner and safer place to live in.

Khalid: The state believes there is sufficient land for development elsewhere in the state.

He said the main reason in imposing the cap was to prevent landslides.

“The state believes that there is sufficient land for development at other places,” he said.

Khalid said the move was also to preserve the environment as most of these hillside sites had water catchment areas and developing them would cause floods.

He said preserving and maintaining these natural sites would also give a greener state for all residents to enjoy.

According to state tourism, consumer affairs and environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong, the new ruling will go in tandem with the state’s aspiration to retain at least 30% of its land as green lungs.

“Now, what is left of the land barely meets the figure. Allowing further development will reduce the size of green area.

“The ruling gives us a clear-cut instruction in giving the approval. It means that any application for development involving Class 3 and Class 4 slopes is automatically rejected,” she said.

According to a planning officer of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), the ruling is across the board.

The officer said previously, there was no ban across the board, and her department had to view each application to develop such areas on case-to-case basis.

There are several related laws on such developments. Among them are the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, the Environmental Quality Act 1974, the Street, Drainage Act 1974, the Hillslope Development regulations issued by the Housing and Local Government Ministry, and the Guidelines for Highland issued by the Science, Technology and Environment Ministry.

For residents staying near hillslope areas, the ban is a relief.

They will not need to worry about whether or not the slope near their residential area would be developed.

The ruling will also ensure they enjoyed the greener view they were promised when they bought their property.

Above all, it will also reduce the chance of disasters like landslides.

Oh U-Chen, a resident of Taman Kelab Ukay, said his family bought the property because of its green location.

“But over the years, we were worried that the natural wealth we are enjoying would be gone over night due to overzealous development.

“The new ruling will ensure us that the green environment is here to stay, for everyone of us to enjoy,” Oh said.

According to another resident Rozali Osman, unless such a ruling is enforced, the people, especially the future generations, may not have such natural wealth to enjoy.

“When we used to go up the Klang Gate, we could enjoy a breathtaking scenery of the whole area.

“Now the scenery has changed. There are patches of unsightly cleared areas.

“Not only has the natural wealth been taken away, it is also an eye sore,” he said.

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