Fears over development plans for Bukit Cerakah

The forest trail was damaged after excavation work said to be for a development project. — Filepic

The forest trail was damaged after excavation work said to be for a development project. — Filepic

ALTHOUGH construction work on development projects has stopped at the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve trailhead next to Bukit Bayu, residents are worried that there might be some activities in the middle of the forest.

Bukit Bayu resident Gobindran Krishna Murty said the particular plot of land involved was privately owned.

“We do not know much about it (land status) and we are waiting for answers.

“We have done our best to voice our concerns, but the Selangor government needs to do something about this matter,” he said.

Last month, the residents noticed contractors moving into the forest via the entrance next to Bukit Bayu. The residents also claimed that they heard explosions.

Gobindran said a letter signed by Bukit Bayu Residents Association, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) and Global Environment Centre (GEC) was sent to Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari in an appeal to the state and local authorities to issue an immediate stop-work order for all development activities in the forest area around Section U10, identify the land ownership status and land use requirements, and ensure that there was an Environmental Impact Assessment report provided.

They also urged for a thorough study on flora, fauna and habitat preservation be conducted besides drafting up a nature management plan.

Immediate action should be taken to prevent land erosion and any develop­ment projects that negatively impacts the environ­ment should be stopped, they said.

Gobindran said muddy water from land that was cleared near Bukit Bayu flowed into the forest during heavy rain.

Another resident, Fahri Haminuzin, said unnecessary land clearing with no plans for development could be disastrous for trekkers.

Residents and the NGOs stressed that development in the forest would have long-term negative hydrological effects.

(Hydrological disasters are sharp and harmful changes either in the quality of the earth’s water or its movement).

The environmental NGOs said it could increase the risk of flashfloods as well as cause soil erosion and landslides. They highlighted these problems to representatives from the Forestry Department and Kota Anggerik assemblyman Najwan Halimi.

MNS environmental education division executive director Shanmugaraj Subramaniam said some parts of the forest was privately owned and as much as 202ha of it was not under the forest reserve.

He said that he had not received any feedback although Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) and Petaling District Land Office representatives visited the site.

“I am still waiting for the list of owners and to hear the state government’s final decision.”

He said the Forestry Department claimed they did not receive a letter seeking approval for land clearing or tree felling.

On June 22, StarMetro reported that GEC forest and coastal programme coordinator Nagarajan Rengasamy said this particular forest area was environmentally sensitive.

He said the forest reserve was the last remaining patch of low land with mineral soil and an important water catchment area.

He added that the moratorium on logging, which was introduced by the state government years ago, should now be extended to development on forested land that included state land or forest reserve.

Najwan said MBSA and the land office were monitoring activities in the forest.

“The land is a private area but the status of it is unknown.

“There are no illegal activities going on,” he said, adding that the “explosions” residents heard was a landslide at the entrance to the forest next to Bukit Bayu.

On whether this particular patch of land could be put under forest reserve, he said he would meet MBSA next week to discuss the matter.