Federal Government snubs NGOs on KIDEX

Four national NGOs express concern that the Federal Government’s Department of Environment has ignored their request for a detailed environmental and social assessment of the controversial Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (KIDEX), and reiterate their concerns about the adverse impacts of constructing a fully elevated expressway over established residential suburbs and urban areas.

On 4 June 2014, four national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM) and Third World Network (TWN) – concerned about KIDEX wrote to the Department of Environment (DOE) calling into question the findings of the preliminary environmental impact assessment (PEIA) undertaken for the project. There has been no response or even an acknowledgement from the DOE as yet.

The four NGOs have therefore written again to the Department’s Director General, Y.Bhg. Dato’ Halimah Hassan, reiterating concerns both about the analysis contained in the report, and about the inclusion of the authors’ value judgements into the report’s conclusions.

The PEIA, commissioned and paid for by KIDEX Sdn. Bhd. as part of meeting relevant statutory requirements, examines possible environmental and social effects of the project on local communities and the environment.

Experts reviewing the PEIA have identified a number of serious causes for concern both with the report’s analysis and conclusions, and are worried that the flawed analysis may inadvertently mislead decision-makers.

In particular, the NGOs raised the issue of noise pollution, and pointed out that the PEIA documents that noise pollution is above legally permissible levels for four out of five segments of KIDEX, and that KIDEX will further increase these levels, including at several schools and a hospital. They expressed doubt as to whether the proposed mitigating measures – noise barriers – can be fully effective, as the noise barriers would not be contiguous, in order to avoid blocking access to the residential roads over which KIDEX would be built.

In addition, new information widely published in the media, suggests that the project developer’s claims that the project would result in substantial reductions in congestion in Petaling Jaya are not correct. In light of this evidence about KIDEX’s minimal traffic benefits, the NGOs are concerned that the final conclusions of the PEIA are erroneously based on the authors’ opinions and value judgements and is therefore not a sound basis for decision-making.

“On what basis do the authors assume that congestion will be reduced, given evidence emerging that KIDEX is to connect with other major highways via residential roads? And on what basis do they conclude that any perceived reduction in congestion outweighs the costs in terms of social, environmental, health, safety, aesthetic and other impacts?”, asked Nithi Nesadurai, President of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia.

In their most recent letter, the NGOs have reiterated their call for a more thorough and independent assessment of KIDEX, its economic, social and environmental impacts and appropriate alternatives in the context of Selangor’s long-term development is therefore required as the basis of informed decision-making.

“We call on the Federal Government to respond to concerns raised by the public about the KIDEX project and to our initial letter. The resounding silence so far on the part of the DOE does not reflect well on the agency, which is supposed to safeguard the country’s environment”, said S.M. Mohamed Idris, President of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

They have demanded that should the government insist on continuing to promote the project, then the Director General of the Department of Environment must exercise her authority to require a detailed environmental impact assessment for the project.

President CAP & SAM

On behalf of

1. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
2. Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM)
3. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
4. Third World Network (TWN)

Press statement, 31 July 2014