I refer to the Letter to the editor entitled Why is MRT track being built so close to houses? which appeared in Malaysiakini on March 28, 2013.
We would like to thank the writer for the feedback on the Klang Valley MRT Project.
We however would like to respond to some of the points made by the writer and correct inaccurate assertions made.
We are happy that the writer understands that the Klang Valley is in dire need of a good public transport system.
Everyone recognises that a good public transport system is needed for Kuala Lumpur to continue to grow economically and at the same time, be one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Without good urban rail with the MRT forming a major component of this network, the roads of Kuala Lumpur will be choked, bringing about dire consequences not only in terms of economic growth, but also to the quality of life of its denizens.
The writer was however incorrect in saying that the MRT is being built a couple of metres away from these houses of Jalan Kasah in Medan Damansara.
What is being built now is a retaining wall and NOT the MRT viaduct.
With the retaining wall, a new slow lane for the Kuala Lumpur-bound side of the Sprint Highway can be created.
This new lane will compensate for the fast lane of the highway which is being taken for the MRT viaduct.
The MRT therefore will run in the middle of the Sprint Highway and not metres behind the houses along Jalan Kasah.
The writer is also wrong in stating that the MRT alignment is 4m of Peninsula Residence at Jalan Semantan, and that Sinaran Apartments and the houses at Pinggir Zaaba are "similarly affected".
Peninsular Residence is at least 6m from the MRT alignment while the others are even further away.
While the Railways (Protection Zone) Regulations 1998 is meant to prohibit new buildings from being constructed less than 6m of a railway alignment, this 6m distance is generally followed when constructing new railways.
This MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line is no exception.
On the point about the law permitting tunnelling under private property, the current land laws do not precisely determine the depth of land ownership.
As such, acquisition under public purpose will be needed for even for tunnelling, no different from acquisition of surface land to build a railway above ground. Otherwise, issues of trespass will arise.
While permitting alienation of underground land, this right to exercise this rests solely with the owner.
To avert acquisition of private property, Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd has taken the initiative to negotiate with the owners to obtain the right to go beneath their properties without the surface property being disturbed.
One can appreciate the complexities of these negotiations. However, we are greatly encouraged as we have been successful in most cases.
AMIR MAHMOOD RAZAK is director, strategic communications & public relations, MRT Corporation Sdn Bhd.