PETALING JAYA City Council (MBPJ) put up a signboard last week saying it will cut down 36 trees to make way for road widening works along Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya.
This sparked outrage among residents, namely those in Section 16, who lodged complaints at the Landscape Department and the Bukit Gasing assemblyman’s office.
On Saturday, MBPJ stopped the tree-felling exercise after chopping down 26 trees, leaving only stumps.
Residents claimed they knew about the road widening works in Jalan Universiti but were not aware that it involved felling the trees.
Section 16 Residents Association president Mark Ong was surprised that MBPJ failed to inform them that the trees would be felled.
“Nine trees along the pavement of the PKNS flats in Section 17 were chopped down two weeks ago, and it happened over the weekend.
“With two new property developments along Jalan Universiti and several projects under construction in Section 13, traffic along Jalan Universiti could worsen over the next years.
“But widening the road makes sense to ease congestion, ” he said.
Ong added that heavy rain and thunderstorms around Petaling Jaya also led to fallen trees, resulting in concern for public safety.
Resident Rachel Soon said the huge trees have been a feature for more than 30 years since her family moved to the area.
“It is upsetting to see more of our greenery making way for new development, ” she said, adding that the trees provided beauty and shade to the neighbourhood, especially during hot weather.
“Widening the roads will not necessarily reduce traffic as the junctions have traffic lights, which will still cause congestion during peak hours, ” said Soon, who viewed MBPJ’s proposed upgrading for the area last December.
“The proposal stated that the junction of Jalan 17/1 and Jalan 13/6 would be upgraded with the trees on the road divider preserved, ” she said.
Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM) president Nethi Nesadurai, who lives in Jalan 17/1, said the trees added value to the urban environment by providing fresh air.
“Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172), there is a Tree Preservation Order to protect big and matured trees from being cut or damaged if the girth of the trunk exceeds 0.8m, ” he said, adding that the trees along Jalan Universiti would exceed that.
“Public or environmental experts should be consulted before such drastic action because there are other solutions.
“Jalan Universiti needs greenery more than ever to curb the effects of climate change, ” Nethi added.
Damansara MCA division chief Tan Gim Tuan was upset that the community was not briefed before the tree-felling exercise.
“I will write to MBPJ demanding an explanation on why the trees were felled without consent, ” said Tan, who is also a resident of Section 16.
MBPJ Zone 11 councillor Thayalan Krishnasamy assured that MBPJ had ordered to stop the cutting of the trees and to preserve those still standing.
“Plans to widen Jalan Universiti, including felling the trees, were approved by MBPJ previously, but was only now being carried out.
“I have worked with Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran to preserve as many trees as possible in the area, and the road widening works will continue without sacrificing any more trees, ” he added.
MBPJ corporate communications officer Ahmad Iskandar Mohamad Mukhtar said one condition by city council required the property developer along Jalan Universiti to plant 72 trees to replace the 36 to be cut down.
“The developer decided to replant 142 hopea odorata, or commonly known as chengal pasir or merawan trees along the road shoulder and divider once the road construction is completed, ” he said.
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