The Star Online

Saturday November 21, 2009  Story and photo by OH ING YEEN

BUKIT Gasing residents triumphed 2-1 in a court appeal against the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The judge had ruled that DBKL’s appeal against the High Court decision granting leave to residents to challenge a development order on a hillslope project in Bukit Gasing was dismissed in court, said lawyers R. Sivarasa and Derek Fernandez, who represented the residents.

As reported in StarMetro (“Ray of hope for Bukit Gasing folk”) on April 27, the High Court has granted the residents leave to proceed with an application to nullify the development order on a Bukit Gasing project issued on Oct 2, 2007 by the then Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan.

Big day: Bukit Gasing residents rejoicing the appeal court’s decision.

 

However, DBKL and the developer appealed to the Court of Appeal against the “leave” granted by the High Court, Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing (JACBG) committee member Victor Oorjitham said.

“It took us nearly 20 months and attending several hearings in court before we were granted “leave” by the court,” said Victor.

“Our stand is that no development of Bukit Gasing should be permitted because of the steep gradient on parts of the hill and unsuitable soil structure comprising sand and shale (compressed mud) and that if development was allowed, there would be landslides affecting the life and property of thousands of residents living close to the hill,” he said.

The residents have been in constant battle for almost two years with the city council and the developer Gasing Meridien Sdn Bhd (GMSB) pertaining to the hillslope development in Bukit Gasing that would affect 108 residents.

Maxwell Towers Joint Management Body (JMB) chairman Ashok Menon said this was a significant case for the country.

“Today is one of the rare days where justice is delivered. This is a matter of safety.

“We need to have a city council that upholds the rights of tax-payers, instead all indications point out that the council is pro-business.

“We are not against development and progress but it should be done in an accountable way,” he said.

According to Menon, previously, the DBKL allowed a public hearing when:

·there’s a change of density;

· there’s a change of land use; and

·anything that affects the residents.

“However, the third ruling was amended 18 years ago, hence residents do not have a say if the development does not affect density or land use.

“All we asked was for a chance to be heard,” he said.

Ashok pointed out that Bukit Gasing bore many similarities to Bukit Antarabangsa such as underground piping.

He fears the possibility of the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy will befall them if hillslope developments in Bukit Gasing are given the green light.

Resident G. Ong who has been residing in Bukit Gasing for the past six years, was jubilant with the judgment.

“The environment should not be spoiled.

“Think of others and not just of what goes in the pocket. We hope that whoever sits in the judgment can come to their senses,” she said.

One resident remarked that “this is not the end of it”, implying that DBKL and the developers will pursue this matter and take it to the Federal Court.
Fernandez, who is also the Petaling Jaya city councillor, pointed out the differences between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.
“Since 2008, there will be public hearings if there were objections to any developments in Petaling Jaya.
“However according to DBKL, this right is limited in KL, unless there’s a change to density or land use.
“Hopefully, this will signify a change where public participation is allowed in DBKL and I hope that this will be streamlined across the country whereby all neighbouring landowners have a right to be heard in any development taking place.
“The people must be heard,” he said.

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2009/11/21/central/5155291&sec=central

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