Bukit Gasing project yet to be approved, says DBKL
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz, Nov 23, malaysiakini.com

A controversial bungalow project on Bukit Gasing may still be approved, said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Mayor Ruslin Hassan, although 49% of the 15-hectare land consists of slopes measuring 26-35 degrees or higher.

Ruslin disclosed these figures, provided by geotechnical experts engaged by the landowner Tetuan Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd, at a press conference at the DBKL buiding on Jalan Raja Laut this morning.

Forty-six percent of the land slated for development by Gasing Meridian slopes between 26-35 degrees, while 2.8 percent slopes 35 degrees or higher, said Ruslin.

While 37.1% of the land slopes between 16-25 degrees, only 13.6% has a gradient of 15 degrees or less, he added.

However, Ruslin said the office of the KL mayor “has given orders for the application (to develop the said land) to be processed and vetted by the following committees”.

He then proceeded to list the inter-departmental committees involved in processing vetting the development proposal as well as the ‘recommendations’ issued to Gasing Meridian by a technical sub-committee.

Recommendations

Among the recommendations were:

– any cutting of slopes and transfers of soil should be minimised and development should be done in two phases;

– 20,000 square feet of open area should be set aside for recreational or community purposes and the access roads should not slope at a ratio of more than one foot for every 10 feet.

Ruslin said he called the conference following press reports of a demonstration held last Sunday by about 300 residents of Maxwell, Fraser, and Cameron towers and Petaling Gardens, who are against implementation of the housing project.

Some 5,000 residents in the area believe that their lives will be endangered and that the project will adversely affect the ecology and environment of Bukit Gasing.

Citing studies on Bukit Gasing by geoscience experts, residents believe that part of Bukit Gasing earmarked for the bungalow project was unsafe to build on because of the predominance of shale and sand in the soil composition.

During the press conference, it was pointed out to Ruslin by one journalist that the ministries of natural resources and environment and of housing and local government had previously issued guidelines discouraging development on lands containing slopes exceeding 15 degrees and 25 degrees, respectively.

Even the Kuala Lumpur Draft Structure Plan said DBKL would not permit development on hill sides with slopes exceeding the allowable levels, rules, and regulations set by the federal government, said the journalist.

Ruslin, however, said DBKL would abide by the guidelines issued by the Local Government and Housing Ministry, which did not prohibit development on lands with slopes less than 25 degrees.

He also said the guidelines did not prohibit development on lands with slopes between 26-35 degrees as long as an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report had been approved. Development is not allowed for land with slopes exceeding 35 degrees.

Abide by cabinet’s decision

When asked how DBKL intended to reconcile policies that seemed to contradict each other, Ruslin said City Hall would ensure that any decision reached would be in accordance with the directives of the cabinet.

“It is the highest authority which makes decisions. We cannot go by any decision unless it is endorsed by the government,” said Ruslin.

Ruslin also sought to assure the public, especially Bukit Gasing residents, that any concerns over the soil structure and composition would be addressed by the many experts sitting on the committees vetting the project proposal by Gasing Meridian.

If it is true, as claimed by geoscience expert who had studied Bukit Gasing, that the composition of shale and sandstone rendered it unsafe or suitable for development, the other scientists on the committees would surely concur and recommend against the project, said Ruslin.

“I will not allow any development that is against government policy. I’ll be the first to step in to ensure that government policy is abided by,” he said.

“We are here to serve the public and to make sure that government policy is followed. As a local authority, we do not simply do as we like. We are here to ensure that the majority of the people are protected,” he added. (end)

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