BUKIT Kiara stakeholders have not given up hope of seeing the 189ha park gazetted as a forest reserve.
Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) is organising yet another community walk – their fourth so far – this Sunday at 8am to campaign for the Government to gazette it.
Called “Walk for Conservation of Bukit Kiara,” it is aimed at raising awareness among the public and the authorities on the urgent need to gazette Taman Bukit Kiara as a public park.
Threats of development loom over the strategically located park, despite the Cabinet’s decision in 2007 to preserve the green lung.
FoBK president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor said the land was being eyed for “development,” which should not be allowed.
“Nine years after promises were made to turn one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular exercise spots, Bukit Kiara, into a public federal park, nothing has moved.
“In August 2010, the National Landscape Department (JLN) was tasked with managing and supervising the park.
“However, far from being a green and peaceful haven, Bukit Kiara today is barricaded by fences to demarcate public and private space.
“Thousands of mature trees were felled beginning 2012 to put up a 3.5m-high fence along a 4.7km stretch as part of an upgrading project to demarcate the government and private lot and increase security for visitors, which the stakeholders greatly objected to, but the project went through.
“There have been three “Save Bukit Kiara” walks since then and also a petition with more than 10,000 signatories handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office.
“We have exhausted all avenues of plea and it has come to naught,” he said.
He also lamented that none of the government agencies responded to their petition and noted the lack of communication.
“JLN has called for meetings with us in the past, the last was in November, but it has not made any commitments to our requests. None of the meetings were fruitful,” he added.
The Star reported on Aug 2012 that the then Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung explaining that the delay in gazetting Bukit Kiara was because more than 64ha had been leased out and suggested that the forest be gazetted in stages instead.
FoBK member Dr Pola Singh said Bukit Kiara should continue to remain as it is, so that the future generations could enjoy a pristine forest in the city.
“We should resolve to do everything within our power to ensure that Bukit Kiara is protected and preserved from development.
“Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) needs to come up with an unequivocal and strong statement that they will not entertain any new development plans submitted in the vicinity of Bukit Kiara and should any new plans be submitted, they will be immediately rejected,” he said.
In a statement to the media, FoBK said the park was acquir-ed from a private owner for the public.
It was the site of the proposed first botanical garden in Malaysia and a consultant was appointed to prepare a proposal that was accepted by DBKL in the late 1970s.
Large parts of that area was awarded to a number of private recreational clubs, leaving only a small area covered by old rubber trees for the planned park.
After much appeal from the public, the Cabinet decided in 2007 that the remaining 189ha park was to become a big scale public park.
Bukit Kiara is now a secondary forest surrounded by housing and commercial estates such as Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Sri Hartamas, Sprint Highway, and is popular among nature lovers, cyclists, runners and hikers.
The park sees about 4,000 visitors during the weekends, comprising Malaysians and expatriates.
It is also home to small animals such as birds, snakes, squirrels and monkeys, and has pristine streams with water that is categorised as Class 1, which means it is deemed safe enough for consumption.