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Tuesday July 27, 2010 TheStar Online
AS RESIDENTS affected by a proposed development on Bukit Gasing (KL-side), we are cheered by the mayor’s comment that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will not agree to development on four hills — Bukit Tabur, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Nenas and Bukit Sungai Besi.
Given this statement, we hope the mayor will promptly withdraw the development order for Bukit Gasing.
It is heartening that the mayor seems to desire inclusion of residents in the approval process for hillslope developments. We hope this means that no approval of development orders on hillslopes will be issued by DBKL before a public hearing henceforth.
Affected residents should be given geotechnical reports, proposed construction designs and details of studies that DBKL has done to validate the safety of proposed development on a hillslope.
Details of agencies consulted by DBKL, with details of considerations and recommendations made by them should also be given.
Without these details, residents will not be able to feel safe nor can they participate meaningfully to help DBKL in the delivery if its duties and responsibilities.
We also hope that the mayor will quickly move to have the four hills gazetted as open areas or protected reserves.
The restriction of hillslope development should not be seen only from a safety perspective. There are many important considerations from environmental and quality of living perspectives.
The Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 has objectives to improve the quality of living, working and business environment to make KL a world-class city. One of its objectives is to “create a Tropical Garden City sensitive to its natural site and appropriate to its tropical regional location.”
Hence, preservation and conservation of the limited green areas represented by hills must be actively pursued by the mayor.
Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing
This is the second MSM article purporting that there may not be development on Bukit Gasing. The first was in The Star – Central Metro on 14th July under “Mayor Speaks?. The mayor said DBKL will not agree to development on 4 hill,Bukit Tabur, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Nenas and Bukit Sungai Besi. Then he goes on to talk about how responsible and diligent DBKL will be. One wonders how Medan Damansara residents feels about the many agencies that permitted the denuding of trees at the very steep hill slopes that Damansara 21 development give such careful DBKL planning and approval controls. Two houses sufferred landslide damages and only be the grace of god, no fatalities occurred.
At the sametime as the “Mayor Speaks” article a notice board was up in the DBKL community centre in Pantail Dalam/Bukit Gasing area announcing two 26 stories condo that wasn’t even in the draft KL City Plan that we had objected to.
Now, the Mayor talks about having submitted 52.6ha of Bukit Gasing to be gazetted and needing approval from the Land Office. Hello? He doesn’t know if he has the power? NST quotes that Bukit Gasing on KL side comprises 115.6 ha. So, KL is only going to gazzette about 45.5% of the green lung that could have been preserved!
Yet more strange, DBKL continues to be silent on whether they will withdraw the DO given to Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd. The hill that Gasing Meridion will destroy is what most people will see and identify as Bukit Gasing on KL side.
We have to be vigilant and not fall prey to deliberate attempts to confuse and hide DBKL’s lack fo care for preservation of our limited green lungs, sustainable development and safety to residents.
Any straight forward Malaysian would think that DBKL is finally begining to understand and sympathise with the concerns of Gasing residents, who have gone to court to press for their rights. But those in the know wonder why the D.O.s have not been rescinded in such case, which would be entirely within DBKL’s capacity to do. Does the land office decide this? Then there is the matter of state land vs private land, that DBKL has been coy about, and the press none the wiser about. And the press conference and manner of the reporting, both transparent as slate, continues to beguile an unsuspecting public at large. Yet we hope…
ps – for those not familiar with the expression in the subject line, read http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-pig-in-a-poke.html
Up to the Land Office now
By Nuradzimmah Daim, NST Streets, July 23, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: The application to gazette part of Bukit Gasing as a forest reserve was sent to the Land Office a month ago.
Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said the application was to gazette 52.6ha of the Kuala Lumpur part of the land as a forest reserve.
“We just have to wait for the Land Office to give its approval for our application to have part of the hill gazetted as a forest reserve, with 6ha serving as a buffer zone,” said Fuad.
He said this at a press conference after chairing a meeting with KL members of parliment at City Hall headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut on Thursday night.
Bukit Gasing residents have been fighting for the KL side of the green lung to be gazetted as a forest reserve for years.
They had filed a suit against City Hall who they claimed failed to consult the neighbouring residents before it gave planning approvals to developer Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd to build 68 bungalows on a 15.5ha site on the KL side of Bukit Gasing.
City Hall, in an order dated Oct 2, 2008 issued to Gasing Meridian, allowed the developer to carry out earth works and sub-divisions in the area.
Friends of Bukit Gasing said the decision to allow development there on the KL land contradicted assurance given by former Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Isa Samad and former mayor Datuk Mohmad Shaid Mohd Taufek that the land would be gazetted as a forest reserve.
A total of 37.6 ha of the Bukit Gasing on the Petaling Jaya side was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1961.
The Kuala Lumpur side covers 115.6ha hectares and it includes state land.
Friday July 23, 2010
A NOTICE board put up recently at Bukit Gasing to call for objections for a proposed high-density residential project on the Kuala Lumpur side has disappeared without a trace.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, who had taken a photo of the board on Friday last week, said the board was gone by Monday.
“The proposal was for two 26-storey condominium blocks comprising 408 units and 18 villas, which would also increase the population density,” she said.
The notice invited landowners and residents to send their objections to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall Town Planning Department by Aug 12.
She said at one of the KL Draft Plan 2020 hearings, she was made to understand that only low-density development would take place in the area that was not gazetted as a green lung.
“This area is known to be landslide-prone since 1971. The proposal is worrying and warrants attention from the authorities,” she said.
She added that Bukit Gasing was one of the last remaining green lungs in Kuala Lumpur and needed to be kept as such.
“Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail mentioned early last month that 130 of the 286 acres of Bukit Gasing owned by the Government would be gazetted as a green lung under the KL Draft Plan 2020,” Nurul Izzah said.
She said there were multiple landowners and developers in Bukit Gasing and the latest proposal that had the residents up in arms was by Langkah Bakti Sdn Bhd.
The MP along with about 70 people from Pantai Panorama, Pantai Hillpark, Friends of Bukit Gasing and residents attended a briefing on Tuesday night given by Bukit Gasing Joint Action Committee chairman and Petaling Jaya city councillor Derek Fernandez.
Nurul Izzah along with the other Kuala Lumpur MPs met the Kuala Lumpur mayor yesterday evening and one of the issues raised was the the proposed project.
When contacted, the developer declined to comment on the issue.
PETALING JAYA (July 20, 2010): YTL Land and Development Bhd has clarified that the development highlighted in “Alarm bells over Gasing Hill project” published on page 8 today is not owned by the company. “We wish to clarify that the project the article refers to is not a development by YTL Land,” Syarikat Perumahan Kemajuan Negara Sdn Bhd (wholly owned subsidiary company of YTL Land and Development) director Datuk Mohd Zainal Abidin Abdul Kadir said in a written response. theSun regrets the error. — theSun
KUALA LUMPUR (July 19, 2010): Alarm bells are ringing as the impending development of the last strip of the Kuala Lumpur side of Bukit Gasing seems to have taken its first step.
A notice board calling for objections to a major project on the hill was put up recently. Those opposed to the construction of luxury condominiums and villas have until Aug 12 to voice their objections.
However, what is interesting is that Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail himself was shocked that the notice board was put up without his knowledge.
Moreover, he was dismayed that the YTL Land & Development Bhd mega project plans to increase the density of the area from 20 people per acre to 332 people per acre. “I feel it is too high. I will need to check with my people on the developments of this project,” Ahmad Fuad said when contacted.
He later sent senior officers to the site and is expected to call for a briefing soon.
YTL plans to build two blocks of 26-storey condominiums comprising 408 units and 18 units of 2 1/2-storey villas on the 289-acre area.
Protests over the project began as soon as it was announced in 2008, with residents and groups from both Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur objecting.
Chairman of the Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing and Petaling Jaya Residents Associations and Petaling Jaya City councillor Derek Fernandez said the council and the state government are ready to defend the green lung as any development on the Kuala Lumpur side will also affect Petaling Jaya.
“The (Petaling Jaya) mayor and the state will object to this project. It is irresponsible of the developer who is also responsible for the already congested Pantai Hillpark project.
“This is supposed to be the green lung for YTL’s previous development!”
Fernandez said the National Urbanisation Policy stated that all developers must provide two hectares of open space for every 1,000 people.
He said Kuala Lumpur was already a non-sustainable city and allowing this project will further deprive people of open space.
“People in Kuala Lumpur are not being given a minimum standard of public open space so the developer is duty- bound to provide the land back in accordance to legislation,” he added. — theSun
Residents unconvinced despite developer’s assurance
By CHARLES FERNANDEZ
LAND clearing at a foothill, atop which sits the Venice Hill condominium, has residents worried for their safety.
Residents of both the condominium and the nearby Taman Mudun are speaking out against the upcoming project to build a retaining wall and for 76 town villas.
Recently, more than 30 residents’ associations in the area came together to protest against the developer bulldozing a narrow strip of trees on the hill to make way for the project.
The residents said that before the land clearing was carried out, only Tower 4 which was contructed on a steep slope looked in danger but now blocks 5, 7 and 8 were also sitting at the edge of the hill.
For the people of Taman Mudun, it is almost like history repeating itself.
Fifteen years ago, they had voiced their fears about the Venice Hill condominium project when Tower 4 was being constructed on a steep slope near the houses.
The residents, especially those living in Jalan Petunia and Jalan Lantana, complained that rain would wash earth and debris on to their roads.
They were assured by the project consultant that the developer had taken all the safety measures, including spending an additional RM1.5mil to further strengthen the slopes around the project by carrying out soil nailing works using the modern technique of reinforced bars inserted into the slope.
Two years later, however, the previous state government decided that the houses were under threat and ordered the developer to build new houses on a different plot of land within Taman Mudun
On the present Garden Villas project, developer Mah Sing Properties Sdn Bhd said the company had obtained Ikram’s approval to proceed with the construction work and had appointed leading geotechnical firm, G&P Professionals Sdn Bhd, as consultants.
However, the residents are not convinced. Among them is Dr William Leon Chua, who is worried about the possibility of a landslide due to the rapid rate of the land-clearing work.
“Despite the assurances given by the developer, we still fear the worst. We want the authorities to step in and put a halt to any further development at the foothills,” he said.
Kajang Municipal Council’s (MPKj) Planning and Development Department and Engineer-ing Department had earlier stated that the surrounding areas were taken into consideration before the project approval was issued.
Mah Sing Properties chief operating officer Teoh Eng Cheng said there was no danger on the hillslopes although they looked barren.
“We are willing to hold a briefing for the concerned residents and explain, with the help of our geotechnical consultants, why there is no imminent danger at the hillslopes and why they should not be unduly worried over the land-clearing at the foothills,” he said.
He added that the residents’ association or the Venice Hill condominium Joint Manage-ment Board could contact him at 03-9221 6888.
Wednesday July 14, 2010 – The Star
SLOPE development is a sensitive issue in Kuala Lumpur and yet a pertinent one.
We have 5% of land under Level 4 which is above 35 degrees, 49% for level two (15-25 degrees) and level three (25-35) and the rest falls under level 1 (15 degrees).
There are four hills, Bukit Tabur, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Nenas and Bukit Sungai Besi that we have agreed not to develop but there are other places like Bukit Tunku, Bukit Damansara and Bukit Lanjan that are also quite hilly but have been developed.
People often ask the question, “Why must we develop the hilly area?” They say it is dangerous and maybe it is. They always quote the Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa incidents.
We mostly have level two, level three and level four. We need to check on that because some may develop level two and three and leave behind level four.
We cannot allow that to happen because it is dangerous. It is the common misconception that if we leave it alone it will not collapse. However, I have seen untouched hills collapsing. When it rains, trees may fall and sooner or later erosion will happen.
At the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) if the area is above 35 degrees and is a continuous highland we will never allow it to be developed even if the Housing and Local Government Ministry allows 10%.
However, if people touch the hill slightly below the stipulated level we would like to know all the technical aspects of their projects.
We want to know from geotechnical consultants about the design and the type of wall used. The safety factor for all slope and hillslide development is a minimum of 1.5 and places like Hong Kong and Switzerland are able to build under similar factors because it has the same physical features. The question is how do they manage the slope?
First of all we must have the complete data on the slope. For that we have to work with several departments including Mineral and Geoscience and the slope division under the Works Department.
We always advise the consultants and developers to be conservative especially in putting extra weightage in designing. To ensure we cover all the aspects. We invite IKRAM to help us to monitor the design.
Bear in mind we only allow 50% of the said land called the clean area to be developed and not 100%.
After we have approved the design we will check on the implementation. There are certain procedures that developers must ensure, including that the working hours do not disturb residents, the lorries coming in and out of the site have to be washed properly and they have to beef up safety especially during heavy rain.
Many times, developers fail to adhere to these simple rules and people lose trust in them. I think we may resort to issuing stop-work orders to contractors if we receive at least two complaints from residents.
Apart from that, there has to be proper drainage and a buffer zone of 4.5m to 5m at least from the houses.
With the buffer zone and a caisson wall, we will have an early warning system in the event of a landslip.
Finally in the third stage it is our responsibility and the developer’s to ensure that maintenance is carried out.
The DBKL is always in a dilemma because people think we are biased but that is not the case. The developers are the land owners, they have to pay for the land, assessment and the quit rent.
Under the present Act if we do not allow the development we will have to pay them. Just imagine how many lands in KL fall under the level two and level three categories. I personally feel we cannot afford to acquire the land because it is too big and our priority is to provide services for the people.
However, that does not mean the developers can build what they want. We only allow low-density development so they have to decide on the money spent for the buffer zone and if they think they can earn profits at the end of the day we will come in.
This does not only generate income it also creates a safety net for the people. I personally believe that this is an opportunity for people to get involved and know about the slope located near their house.
Developers can use us as a mediator to talk to the people. Everyone has a role to play and together we can understand the problems each other faces.
We have to be practical and choose between two options, leave the hill the way it is or put up a good structure that can maintain the safety factor. The topic is still open for discussion.
The hearing had been rescheduled to Wednesday, 14th July for 2:30pm.
We really do need more people to be at the court so that the Judiciary is amply warned that our demand for justice is for real. Do spare just the afternoon to come to the court. If you cannot come, please inform someone you know that might be able to.
‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’
Our silence and inaction has used by the authorities to do much damage to our environment and our rights curtailed.
Now is the time to rise. Let’s us be heard and seen at the High Court.
Many thanks and regards
Tuesday July 20, 2010
By TAN KARR WEI
AFTER four years of waiting, residents near Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya finally succeeded in getting a car park for joggers and jungle trekkers.
“There are many morning joggers and jungle trekkers using Bukit Gasing especially during weekends and parking is a big problem,” said Friends of Bukit Gasing (FOBG) member H.J. Lim.
Lim and several volunteers gathered recently at a 0.5ha site in Jalan Tanjung 5/4, Section 5, with Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee.
More than 20 Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers were also present with three bulldozers to help clear the area of undergrowth and shrubs.
Lim said they had identified 26 trees at the place that would not be cut.
Lee said he had discussed with the MBPJ and the District Office to convert the piece of land owned by the Public Works Department to be used as a car park.
“Parking has always been a problem at Bukit Gasing so we have been talking about the need to have proper parking facilities for quite some time. There is also a need for a toilet and shower facilities for park users,” he said.
Lee said the FOBG would identify someone to maintain the facilities by collecting a minimal fee from the public.
He added that work to clear the undergrowth and pave the surface were expected to be completed within two weeks and the toilet would be ready within two months.