By THO XIN YI firstname.lastname@example.org
THERE was good news for Puchong residents when their objection to a proposed cemetery in Saujana Puchong was granted.
The 22.26ha site has been gazetted as a forest reserve.
Kinrara assemblyman Teresa Kok delivered the good news yesterday together with Subang Jaya municipal councillors Cheah Sang Soon and Stephen Chin, and United Residents Association Puchong chairman Chik Chum.
Kok said she received a notification on July 21 signed by state executive council clerk Mohamad Yasid Bidin, which specified that Selangor has declared that the area shall be a permanent forest reserve known as Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve (Extension).
“In November 2007, the area was earmarked for a cemetery in the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) draft plan.
“The project drew strong opposition from the residents, and we had promised the residents in 2008 that we would fight for the site to remain as a green lung.
“However, we couldn’t gazette the site immediately as the process takes time,” Kok said.
She explained that the exco members and government officers had mixed views on the issue and she needed to convince them that the site was not suitable to be a cemetery, based on the objection from the people.
Kok also added that the proposal for the cemetery came with good intentions but executed with poor planning.
“The district office had to ensure there were burial grounds to cater to the people’s needs.
“The project was brought up some 10 years ago but the house buyers were not informed and Saujana Puchong evolved into a residential township.
“This is a lesson to be learnt for the state government and local councils in town planning and zoning,” Kok said.
She clarified that the site was not gazetted as a burial ground though the previous state government had approved to change the status of the land from forestry to cemetery in 2002.
The state planning department is now looking for alternative sites for the cemetery and one of the options is in Sepang.
There are also plans to turn this 22.26ha land into a forest park.
“The Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve is not open to the public.
“We are considering a forest park for the people to walk in the forest and appreciate nature, and this will be carried out with as little destruction to the trees as possible,” Kok said.
She hoped the residents group, Signature Campaign Teamwork, which had applied for a judicial review on the proposed cemetery project, could contact her and other people’s representatives directly for update on the issue.
“We can be reached through e-mails and phone calls, so it is not necessary for us to talk through the media all the time,” she said.
Chik said he was delighted to hear the good news from Kok as the cemetery would certainly affect the residents’ quality of life.