KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Saving the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge from encroachment under the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) new alignment is good news as far as Malaysia’s environment is concerned, says a local environmentalist.
“Actually, protecting the quartz ridge should not have been even a consideration; it should always be protected,” said Andrew Sebastian, a naturalist and an established certified nature and bird guide.
On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed announced the new deal for the ECRL which had been postponed due to its high cost originally.
Following nine-months of renegotiation with the Chinese government by the new Pakatan government, the cost of the ECRL was reduced significantly to RM21.5 billion from the original RM65.5 billion. The new, shorter by 40 km, rail link will also have the number of stations reduced to 20 from 28 originally.
Environmental factors were also considered under the new ECRL alignment, Dr Mahathir had said when announcing the resumption of the rail link.
Under the original ECRL project proposed by the previous Barisan government, the Klang Quartz Ridge could have been a major environmental casualty as it would have involved tunnelling works through the country’s mountain ranges, specifically the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak, Selangor – the longest pure quartz dyke in the world.
Andrew also welcomed the new rail system linking the Klang Valley with the east coast, saying that it was much needed and timely and that it would provide a clean and efficient way of travel both for people and in the transportation of goods.
However, serious considerations must be given to the environment during the implementation of the rail link, he said.
“The environmental cost of such a large project must be carefully contained and be transparent in terms of how much land will be used and increasingly they must not take down any forest or forested areas in the process,” said Andrew a law graduate who also writes the “Eco Journey” column for the NAM News Network (NNN) website under the Bernama International News Service.
“The idea to protect ecosystems like the Klang Gates Quartz ridge is a very good mandate and assurance that has been given, but other places like permanent forest reserves, river reserves, corridor connecters such as from one forest complex to another must be taken into consideration as well.
“The ECRL project must have a very, very high standard of environmental planning, execution and monitoring,”Andrew said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Bernama reported that the Department of Environment (DOE) has yet to receive an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report from the Federal Government on the new alignment of the ECRL project.
DOE director-general Datuk Dr Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Che Ibrahim said no final date had been set for the report to be submitted.
“The EIA report can be submitted if the Federal Government is ready to present it to the DOE. No final date has been fixed for the submission,”he added.