Bukit Gasing forest reserve razed


2009/05/11
Sheila Sri Priya

 

PETALING JAYA: A forest fire razed a 2ha area of the Bukit Gasing hilltop on Saturday -- the same spot which caught fire 12 years ago.

 

The fire is believed to have started from the top ridge facing Kuala Lumpur before spreading into the Petaling Jaya side of the hill, which is a forest reserve.

The cause of the fire, however, is still under investigation.

Councillor Derek Fernandez together with Petaling Jaya City Council officers and the media hiked to the scene yesterday.

"We have received reports that the hill is a hideout for illegal immigrants and drug addicts. But we have no evidence to link that to the fire," said Fernandez.

President of the Association of Backpackers Malaysia, Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou, who was also present, said the same spot had caught fire 12 years ago. Then, it was believed to have been caused by the squatters living on the Kuala Lumpur side of the hill.

"To deter intrusions into the forest reserve on the Petaling Jaya side, a fence was erected below the look-out tower," said Dr Wong.

Dr Wong suggested that the Petaling Jaya City Council create an environmental centre with sufficient manpower to monitor the hill.

"We need to make decisions quickly on the Kuala Lumpur side of the hill to provide the necessary buffer zones and also gazette these areas as forest reserve so that Gasing Hill can be protected as one entity."

Fernandez said it was important for the council to increase the budget for the maintenance of the hill and to recruit forest rangers to keep tabs on the activities to avoid similar incidents.

"Only one-third of the forest is in the Petaling Jaya side and we need the cooperation of all sides to save the lovely Bukit Gasing for the future generation.

"It's a beautiful forest with many exotic flora and fauna. Bukit Gasing needs supervision to ensure its beauty is preserved."