Thursday, August 9, 2012

Landslide fears in Putra Heights

Patrick Lee | August 9, 2012
Residents worry that an LRT extension project will break apart a man-made lake's wall and threaten their homes. 

PUTRA HEIGHTS: A stretch of land designated as part of the Kelana Jaya Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension line is said to be too unsafe for raised train platforms to be built there.

The track, which will connect the future Taman Subang Alam (STN11) and Alam Megah (STN12) stations, will be built in between an Alam Megah housing area and a disused rock quarry that has been flooded and turned into a lake.

Only a 20-metre-wide raised bedrock separates residents here from millions of litres of water, and they fear that heavy construction would cause a destructive landslide or worse.

Putra Heights residents action committee chairperson Prem Kaur Bahal Singh said she worried that pillars drilled into the rock would break it apart.

“The pillars have to be constructed at the tip of the lake,” she said. “If those rocks break, there will be a mini-tsunami.”

Such fears seem to have little effect on Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad, the federal-owned company that owns the Klang Valley’s LRT lines. Work has already started on the Alam Megah station.

High-voltage tranmission lines also run through the area, and are expected to be parallel to the train tracks.

Prem’s concerns were shared by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Professor Tajul Anuar Jamaluddin, a geologist whom Prem’s committee has recruited to study the soil structure there.

Following a July 2010 inspection, Tajul determined that rock-blasting activities there caused the ground around the former quarry to become highly fragmented.

A steep bedrock, he showed in a later report, served as the 60m-deep manmade lake’s wall.

Approved by Selangor government

Speaking to FMT, Tajul said that it was difficult to make sure that the area was safe for heavy LRT construction.

“Can anybody do a study on the rock face and verify that the rock face is stable? Nobody can justify that it is stable or not. You can’t do that because of the water,” he said.

He added that the area risked experiencing a landslide as devastating as the one that hit Bukit Antarabangsa in 2008.

Following Tajul’s report, Putra Heights residents petitioned Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim for help.

According to Prem, the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) conducted an independent study on the matter before coming up with a report in June this year.

However, this report has not been made public. Prem said Khalid wanted more studies to be carried out before releasing the results.

According to a recent Prasarana press statement, Khalid approved Prasarana’s LRT extension track alignment in Feb 2011.

It added that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Department of Environment (DoE) gave their final approvals for the project last year.

The company also cited a June 3 article in The Sun by Malaysian Institute of Engineers (IEM) secretary Lee Teang Shui, who defended the project.

“If the foundation (of the pillars) is appropriately designed and founded, the subsidence of pillar would be within the tolerable limits of a safe track design, and shall not pose any technical concern,” Lee’s article said.

source: fmt

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