Bohol pond in peril again with new development plan

Land around Bohol flood retention pond has been earmarked for a housing project. — Photos: YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Stakeholders worried over tender notice on KL land office website

KUALA Lumpur’s second-largest flood retention pond is once again under threat as new development plans emerge for the area.

This comes nearly a year after the Federal Government stopped a similar proposal by the previous administration to allocate the land to a private developer.

Concerns have resurfaced following a recent tender notice by Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur Lands and Mines Office (PTGWP), which called for bids to design and upgrade the 63.45ha Bohol flood retention pond in Seputeh for alienation under Section 76 of the National Land Code (Act 828).

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PTGWP published the tender notice on its website, inviting companies to submit bids for the project to facilitate construction of a massive housing project.

Six plots of land totalling 10.85ha are being alienated on Lot 102996 for a development project.

In danger: A total of 10.85ha around Bohol flood retention pond in Kuala Lumpur has been earmarked for development once again. — FAIHAN GHANI/The StarIn danger: A total of 10.85ha around Bohol flood retention pond in Kuala Lumpur has been earmarked for development once again. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

An accompanying map shows the plots to be alienated for housing projects, namely Plot 1 (Rumawip), Plot 2 (residential condo), Plot 3 (residential condo), Plot 4 (Rumawip), Plot 5 (residential condo) and Plot 6 (Madani housing) (see graphic).

“What this means is that the government wants to develop the flood retention pond for a housing project and is calling for developers to submit a tender for the project.

“The successful developer must ensure that certain conditions are fulfilled, which involves re-aligning Sungai Kuyoh, which flows into the pond,” said a source from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The tender opened on Jan 26 and closed on Feb 16.

A document on the website outlined requirements for tender submission, including the need to be a registered company and to submit four copies of the proposal document.

ALSO READ: Bohol land deal scrapped

The tender notice along with the map has caused unease among stakeholders.

When contacted, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said, “I am also in the dark over this project.

Taman Kinrara Batu 7½ and Kinrara Court surroundings, close to Bohol pond, flooded on March 7, 2022. — FilepicTaman Kinrara Batu 7½ and Kinrara Court surroundings, close to Bohol pond, flooded on March 7, 2022. — Filepic

“I have told DBKL many times to keep me informed about any new projects coming up in Seputeh.

“This is news to me; I will not support any project on flood retention pond land, especially one that is already a flood hotspot.”

Equally surprised by the news was Kinrara assemblyman Ng Sze Han, who said he was not aware of it.

“Bohol pond should function as originally intended, as a retention pond,” he said.

The Bohol flood retention pond, while located in Kuala Lumpur, borders Kinrara township in Selangor and Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas).

This area has seen floods in the past few years, with the last inundation occurring in March 2022.

StarMetro reached out to the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) for comments on the project, but its spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the project, merely stating that Bohol pond came under the purview of the Federal Territories Department and was maintained by DBKL.

Bohol flood retention pond has been shrinking for decades.Bohol flood retention pond has been shrinking for decades.

“Hence, any queries in relation to government land, please check with PTGWP,” the spokesperson said in an email statement.

Meanwhile, a DID officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “It’s already out there, published on the PTGWP website.

“We were not told about this decision, so it surprised everyone here, especially since we opposed it the first time.”

The PTGWP director, when contacted, declined to comment on the issue.

In an August 2022 letter, Kuala Lumpur DID had opposed development on the land as the pond was part of a RM300mil Sungai Kuyoh Basin Flood Mitigation Plan, which was supposed to start in October last year.

The mitigation plan, however, did not take off as scheduled and it is unclear when it will take place.

StarMetro’s article on May 15, 2023.StarMetro’s article on May 15, 2023.

DID’s consultants, in an assessment report for the project, said Bohol pond’s capacity was not large enough for excess rainwater.

In an exclusive report on May 8, 2023, titled “Gripped by flood fears”, StarMetro highlighted the proposed alienation of land surrounding Bohol pond for a residential project consisting of affordable housing (40%) and residential condominiums (60%).

The pond is gazetted as reserve land for recreation.

According to documents sighted, PTGWP gave conditional approval to a company to alienate part of Lot 102996 for development on Oct 22, 2021.

In a follow-up report on May 15, 2023, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary Datuk Azman Abidin stated that a decision to cancel the alienation had been made after a meeting with various government agencies.

The developers had also failed to fulfil key technical requirements for the alienation process, he said.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said in a statement at that time, “The ministry, together with DID, is committed to resolving flood issues in Kuala Lumpur by ensuring that the basic function of flood retention ponds is maintained and any development does not happen before the gazettement process is completed.

“As such, Lot 102996 still remains as government land and has not been transferred to any individual or companies.”

Nik Nazmi said approval in principle was to allow a comprehensive study or analysis based on conditions set by DID to be carried out by the applicant while bearing related costs.

However, he emphasised that approval in principle was not a guarantee that the transfer of ownership would be allowed.

He further explained that Bohol’s technical and design requirements reports prepared by DID, which took into account future development and climate change, determined that Bohol pond required 33.1ha of land.

As such, DID requested that the lot remain as a river reserve and retention pond so that the area as a whole would maintain the design requirements of Bohol pond with a storage volume of 1.28 million cubic metres.

However, Nik Nazmi’s press secretary clarified that the issue was no longer within his jurisdiction.

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