MP SPEAKS The Selangor government’s “approval in principle” for the six proposed integrated highways will exacerbate water scarcity in the state and should be an issue of concern to citizens of the state.
In particular, the construction of the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) will have an adverse impact on water availability for the present and future generations in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
The EKVE will destroy the Selangor State Park (Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor), where four forest reserves that are water catchment forests are located. And it will remove 106.65 hectares of forest, along with the attending ecosystem services.
Specifically, there will be a loss of 19 million litres of portable water a day now being supplied to about 9,225 households in the Ampang area. And, that will destroy the catchment area which will affect the Ampang intake plant and the Klang Gates Dam, which supplies to about 80,000 households and businesses in Selangor.
In conjunction with the approval process, the state convened its first public meeting on the de-gazetting of forest reserves last week.
I have reliably learned that the EKVE formal approval is in its last stage and could come anytime in the next few weeks.
The state approach in giving ‘approval in principle’ is worrying. Going through with the de-gazetting of existing forest reserves and water atchment areas clearly suggests that the state does not have an integrated and sustainable approach to water and natural resources management in Selangor.
‘Business as usual’ approach
The state seems to have embraced a ‘business as usual’ approach and therein lies the problem: business interests over sustainable development.
In fact, Selangor should take every effort to protect its water sources, including water catchment areas, as a matter of priority as opposed to exposing the people to present and future water shortages and vulnerabilities.
This business as usual approach of the state government has to stop.
It will be a hollow declaration that Selangor will be a developed state by 2020 when we cannot even supply enough water for ourselves - and then we foolishly sacrifice water for an unsustainable and short-lived solution to the traffic congestion of the Klang Valley.
The state should urge the federal government, especially the Malaysiann Highway Authority, to promote sustainable and affordable public transportation as opposed to promoting a network of six expensive highways to manage and disperse traffic in the state.
Thus, I call upon the Selangor government to move away from the business-as-usual practice and develop a sustainable development model in managing the state.
The first task in pursuing such a model is to protect forests and water catchment areas and promote natural resources policies in the interests of the people, including the future generations.
This will require that the state government withdrawing all EKVE approvals, and putting a halt to all the other highway plans as well.
CHARLES SANTIAGO is the Member of Parliament for Klang.