Ipoh residents, groups protest city council’s development plans on ‘sensitive’ slope along highway to Lumut

Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman speaks to reporters at the Ipoh City Council office in Ipoh February 18, 2020. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman speaks to reporters at the Ipoh City Council office in Ipoh February 18, 2020. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Feb 18 — Several non-governmental organisations together with political parties and residents came together today to protest the Ipoh City Council’s proposed amendments on land usage involving a total of 151.18 hectares of land in three areas on the Kledang Saiong Range.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, who represented the group, said that amending the land usage of the permanent forest reserve into a mixed development will have an adverse effect.

“The three proposed areas for mix development are located on the slope of the Kledang Saiong Range, along the Ipoh-Lumut highway, and it’s very sensitive.

“The areas have geophysical features and the land there is vulnerable to erosion. Any activities on the slope could result in mud and flash flood and danger the residents nearby as well as the highway users,” he told reporters at the Ipoh City Council office here.

Meor Razak said that the areas proposed for the amendment is also located nearby the habitat of the Siamang monkey, an arboreal black-furred gibbon native that is fully protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“Development in this area will surely affect the monkey’s habitat,” he added.

He said that once developed, it will be easier for individuals to encroach into other parts of the permanent forest reserve.

Meor Razak also said that the Buntong Waterfall, located in the range and has the potential to be turned into a recreational and camping area would also be affected by the propoosed development.

“The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah had declared the Kinta Valley as the National Geopark geology site.

“Therefore, whatever natural areas, which has potential of ecotourism, should be protected and developed, and not destroyed,” he said.  

Earlier, Meor Razak attended the public hearing session on the city council’s proposed amendments on land usage to submit their objections to the council’s panel members, where the land will be converted for agricultural, housing and commercial purposes.

Also present at the hearing session was MCA Perak public services and complaints bureau chief Low Guo Nan, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) central committee member R. Mohanarani. residents from Meru Valley, and several other representatives from environmental groups.

Mohanarani had asked why some of the land under the Kledang Saiong permanent forest reserve has private ownership.

“This is very strange and wrong. How can some individuals actually own the land in the permanent forest reserve?” she asked.

“Even though some of the private owners had eventually agreed to not build houses there, but the fact is that the land is no longer under government and the owners could propose for some other development in the future.

“We urge the state government to take back the permanent forest reserve land which has been given to the private sector,” she added.

Perak housing, local government, public transport, non-Islamic affairs and new villages committee chairman Paul Yong said a final decision on this matter will be made during the state planning committee meeting, which will be held on March 12.

“The decision will be made during the state planning committee meeting, which will be chaired by the Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

“That is why we had a public hearing session today to see the feedback and response from the public on the proposed amendment on the land usage. The decision will be based on the information we gathered today,” he said.

“All relevant agencies and responsible parties will be informed about the decision which will be made at the meeting,” he added.

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