SHAH ALAM: Selangor executive councillor Jamaliah Jamaluddin, who oversees the environment portfolio, insists the state has “high standards” for developers to meet before they are allowed to clear forests.
Responding to criticism over land clearing for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, Jamaliah said Selangor is the only state that holds town hall sessions before allowing developers to fell trees at forest reserves.
She said the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve was regazetted by the Selangor government in August 2021 following public outcry after some 536.7ha of the forest were degazetted.
Jamaliah said menteri besar Amirudin Shari’s administration will uphold its high standards to ensure that 30% of land in the state is retained as permanent forest reserve.
“This is a challenge, whether it is the state or federal government, to balance development and preserve the environment,“ she told FMT.
In February, forest monitoring watchdog Rimba Disclosure Project said it had found “some odd activities going on inside the Selangor state park” based on its analysis of satellite imagery.
It said four suspicious clearings had occurred within or at the borders of the park, which was gazetted in 2007 and is the second largest protected area in West Malaysia after Taman Negara.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) has since said its project does not involve any degazettement of forest reserves, including those within the Selangor state park.
MRL, which is wholly owned by the finance ministry, also said it had obtained a right-of-way permit from the forestry department for its contractors to enter the forest reserve to carry out “licensed activities” related to the project.
Jamaliah said the state government would act immediately if any land clearing did not adhere to specifications, citing a stop work order issued in December for work carried out at the Hulu Gombak forest reserve and in Serendah.
The order was issued for the two sites, which are part of the ECRL project, after pictures of forest clearing came to light.
She said Amirudin issued the stop work order immediately and told the developer they would only be allowed to resume work once proper procedure has been followed.
“So, if we are to judge Selangor, we should compare it with the other states. We are progressive when it comes to protecting the environment,” she said.