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Saturday November 8, 2008
Story and photos by CHARLES FERNANDEZ
Although the Paya Indah Wetlands in Dengkil has been relaunched recently following a massive regeneration exercise, there is uncertainty on whether
the place could regain its former glory as a tourist destination.
It is feared that the revived wetland park would not have what it takes to attract foreign tourists and local visitors, notably the nature lovers.
The wetland park was closed in February 2005 due to financial constraints faced by the Malaysian Wetlands Foundation which was then managing it.
The Wildlife and National Parks Department then took over its management and proceeded to rejuvenate it.
The sanctuary was re-opened to the public on Oct 20 this year by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Unggah Embas.
After the three-year hiatus, much has been expected of the place but what is still missing is the euphoria and the accompanying enthusiasm experienced during its initial opening in 2001 by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
It has been three weeks since its re-opening, but the 3,100ha eco-tourism park looks and feels like it is still closed as refurbishment work is still on and, worse still, no visitor has been sighted at the place.
When opening the park seven years ago, Dr Mahathir had said that the wetlands had enormous tourism potential as there was an increasing number of visitors, both local and foreign, who appreciated nature.
The park had then been touted as an ideal place for family outings where activities such as horse-riding, roving, canoeing, biking, cycling, sailing and fishing are available.
Despite millions of ringgit spent on resuscitating and regenerating the wetland park, the place remains quiet, even during weekends and holidays.
Officers at the wetlands refused to comment when asked about the number of visitors during the last three weeks.
“I am in no position to comment. You must get the statistics from the Wildlife Department,’’ one officer said.
On Oct 9, StarMetro reported that the wetlands was reopening on Oct 20 in conjunction with the launching of the Environment Week.
At the ceremony, students from 26 schools in the state participated in a tree-planting and other green activities. Present were many special guests, government officers and members of the media.
Following that rousing programme, the park has since stopped pulling in the crowd.
The reason, perhaps, is that only the first phase of the three-phase regeneration of the park is opened to the public and even then there is not much that nature lovers can look forward too.
The place is home to numerous species of birds, fishes and mammals, reptiles and species of aquatic and terrestrial plants.
When it is fully operational it would offer various exciting attractions and outdoor activities for people of all ages, including nature camps for students during the school holidays.
Nature lovers would then be obviously excited about the park when everything is in place - when all three phases are completed.
It has taken 30 months and RM10mil to resuscitate and revive the Paya Indah Wetlands and to reopen it.
The Wildlife Department is confident of giving a new lease of life to the eco-resort, billed as the country’s model park for nature regeneration, environmental rehabilitation and conservation.
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