PETALING JAYA: The new East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) alignment will leave the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge and the nation's silica reserves untouched, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"Importantly, the new alignment also prioritises cultural, heritage and environmental factors by avoiding the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak Selangor, the longest pure quartz dyke in the world," he said when announcing the resumption of the ECRL project today. (April 15).
Later at a press conference, Dr Mahathir was asked what were the other considerations for the ECRL's new realignment, particularly between Port Klang and Putrajaya route.
He noted that one of factors was to avoid the need to carry out tunnelling works through the nation's mountain ranges.
"This is because of the structure of the mountains along the way. If we wanted to do that, we would have to do a lot of tunnelling work.
"Also the material there is mostly silica, something that we can use for other purposes. So we don't want to disturb that," he added.
The new alignment for the ECRL would resolve issues with the Selangor government because there would not be a rail link between Gombak and Port Klang.
The state government objected to the ECRL because the link from the integrated transportation hub to Port Klang would cut across the 16km-long Klang Gates Quartz Ridge.
The Klang Gates Quartz Ridge is a quartz, essentially glass crystal, dyke within the Bukit Lagong-Kanching-Klang Gates region. It is the longest of its kind in the world and stretches from Taman Melawati to the Zoo Negara in Ampang.
The ridge is also considered one-of-a-kind because it has four types of quartz formations within it. It has five endemic plant species, among 265 species found there, and is also home to the serow.
The Selangor government has been lobbying for the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge to be a natural heritage site.
On Sept 16, 2018, Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik was reported to have said that the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge was one of four sites earmarked for application to the Unesco Heritage list.
If the rail project were to cut through the ridge, it would damage the environment and jeopardise its chances with Unesco.