NGOs say govt agencies must bear burden for city flash floods

City Hall workers clean up Jalan Pantai Baru after the flash floods on Thursday. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
City Hall workers clean up Jalan Pantai Baru after the flash floods on Thursday. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PETALING JAYA, May 15 — The authorities are to be blamed for failing to make flood mitigation a priority as they are still allowing overdevelopment to take place in the Klang Valley.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say the ignorance of the authorities is being felt by city folk who continue to bear the brunt of short-sighted planning.

Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage president Puan Sri Sharifah Sabrina Syed Akil said no research is being done prior to the project’s approval.

“On the ground level, we see a lot of construction going on at all times. If it is not a new high-rise building, it is the Mass Rapid Transportation (MRT),” she said.

“We need to care about what is going on underground, whether our drainage system can handle it or if the drains need to be widened.”

She questioned the authorities’ leniency in giving approvals to developers, especially in areas where land is scarce due to development projects.

“City Hall and the other agencies should not allow developers to keep constructing new buildings. When disasters like flash floods strike, the authorities should take full responsibility as it shows something was wrong in the way things were being handled,” she said.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohamed Idris said it is pertinent the government conduct a thorough post-mortem on the causes of the floods in order to efficiently deal with extreme weather in future.

“There could be many contributing factors to the flash floods, among them poor drainage systems and overdevelopment.

“Malaysia needs to beef up its climate action plans in mitigation and adaptation of such events,” he said.

Environmental activist Lim Teck Wyn said flood mitigation is beyond upgrading the existing infrastructure as the major culprit is still rapid development projects.

He said the millions of ringgit spent by the government to construct high-technology tunnels and drains would be a waste if deforestation and hill-cutting activities are still allowed.

“When the Stormwater Management And Road Tunnel was built, the authorities said it will end Kuala Lumpur’s flooding woes, but it never did.

“The reason is because deforestation is still rampant to make space for more buildings. When you cut down trees, water flows quickly into the lowlands, causing flash floods,” he said. 

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