Stakeholders call for fresh hearing on ‘fishy land deal’

PTGWP says a notice about the degazettement of Batu retention pond was put up at the site, but Lim says the area is not accessible due to perimeter fencing. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

The Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur Land and Mines Office’s (PTGWP) move to degazette land at the Batu flood retention pond during the movement control order period is highly suspicious, say stakeholders.

“The notification came out in Nov 4, 2020, and the objection hearing was done later that month during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic” said Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng.

“And I find it even more fishy that the degazettement notice was pasted at the pond site,” he said.

He highlighted that the public were not allowed inside the area.

“It is nonsensical to put up a notice where no one can see or find it,” said Lim.

He was referring to PTGWP’s statement about the process of degazetting 14.973ha around the Batu flood retention pond.

The agency said no one turned up during the objection hearing that was held over two consecutive days from Nov 16, 2020.

Approval for the alienation of the plot was granted by the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Land Exco (JKTWPKL) on Aug 5.

Lim said the land office should cancel the alienation and carry out a fresh hearing to give stakeholders a chance to participate in a transparent engagement session.

“I also want the Chief Secretary to the Government to take action against civil servants involved in the matter.

“How did they think it was okay to carry out an objection hearing during a time that it was not safe for people to be out and about?” he asked.

Social activist Yee Poh Ping also questioned the odd timing of the objection hearing, which was held during the conditional movement control order period.

“The timing is peculiar; surely they could have waited until after the MCO to carry out a proper hearing,” he said.

He also said it was illogical to erect a notice in a restricted area where the public had no access.

“Also, was the notice published in the newspaper?” he asked.

Meanwhile, former Batu MP Tian Chua said the process to alienate pond land should be tightened.

“There needs to be more engagement with stakeholders, and not just putting up a sign.”

He expressed concern that the size of the Batu retention pond would be reduced, and called on the authorities to reveal more technical details on potential floods.

“It seems like the authorities have set their mind on alienating the land.

“Now that it has been approved, they (authorities) need to have proper studies on the impact of the development.

“They also need to ensure that the pond is cleaned up and deepened to maintain its capacity,” said Tian Chua.

Wangsa Maju resident Ravee Suntheraligam, 61, said the news of the development shocked him as the city was hit by floods at end 2021 and early 2022.

“Many homes were flooded for days,” he said, reminding that many people suffered extensive property damage.

“The government has the power to cancel the development or alternatively instruct the authorities to call for a fresh hearing so that the public can give their feedback on the project,’’ Ravee added.

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