SHAH ALAM, April 16 – There have been mixed responses to the recent announcement by the Selangor state government that it will re-gazette the 486.07-hectare Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve as a Selangor Permanent Forest Reserve before Hari Raya.
Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari, who made the announcement on April 8, said the size of the area would include the Busut Baru Orang Asli village at 42.05 hectares and a raw water pipeline alignment for the Sungai Rasau Water Treatment Plant at 8.58 hectares.
He said the Selangor Land and Mines Department as well as the Selangor Forestry Department have been instructed to re-gazette the KLFR immediately, following a decision made at the State Executive Council Meeting (MMKN) on April 6.
Naturalist Andrew Sebastian has welcomed the move, saying that this would give some protection to the permanent forest for now and the future.
“Although we note that a small hectarage has been taken for the water treatment plant, which seems like a good idea, we do hope that this does not further erode into any other protected area that has been gazetted.
“We hope the area size that has been put aside for the water treatment plant must remain true to its intended usage for water treatment and nothing more.”
Meanwhile, environmentalist and Secretary of Otai Reformasi, Abdul Razak Ismail said it made no sense to have the water treatment plant within the forest area.
“We will push for our calls to divert the pipeline outside the area. If it is allowed to go through the forest, it will destroy the natural condition of the forest.”
Meanwhile, former Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar in a Malaysiakini column in September last year had called for a deferment of the Sg Rasau water supply scheme.
Speaking to Weekly Echo today, he said he cannot understand why the state was insisting on carrying out the Off River Storage project, when it would be a burden for the state financially and when there was already another choice for water supply to the state.
He said the project must be discussed again at a ministerial level involving the Ministry of Water and Environment.
He said the project will be relying on a grade four (highly polluted) raw water sourced from the the Klang River, which will also increase per litre cost of cleaning the water.
To address and mitigate raw water risks and to address future water demand, there is already the existing RM8 billion Langat 2 project for water treatment and distribution facilities for the water transferred from the Pahang – Selangor Raw Water Transfer (PSRWT) Tunnel Project.
He said the PSRWT with a full transfer capacity of 2,400 MLD has now been completed and commissioned. The Langat 2 Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Phase I with a treated water capacity of 1,130 MLD has also been completed and commissioned.
“The country is already deep in debt, so why should we be spending so much money that would be raised by bonds and other proceeds when we can maximise the facilities which we already have.”