By YIP YOKE TENG
Residents of Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kota Damansara, Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Utama, Damansara Utama and Damansara Kim have started a signature campaign to urge the Government to bring the Sungai Buloh- Kajang MRT line underground.
They are concerned about the various impacts on the environment anticipated from the proposed elevated track and stations in the area.
They felt some stretches of the proposed alignment that are too close to the houses will lead to air, noise and water pollution as well as higher risk of crime. Also if the stations are not strategically located, it will worsen traffic conditions.
The environmental impact assessment commissioned by the government has acknowledged the same concerns. Furthermore, businesses in certain areas may be affected.
Coordinator of the Joint Residents’ Associations Aaron Sarma said the residents felt taking the train lines underground would be the best option to prevent the potential problems.
He cited the Kelana Jaya and Ampang Park LRT stations as examples, adding that the size of the new stations are expected to be three times that of the LRT.
“Building the MRT underground means you can place the station at the most strategic points. Traffic can therefore be reduced as there is less need to ferry the passengers to the stations.
“The Kelana Jaya LRT station is plagued by parking woes and traffic congestions while the case is less serious at the Ampang Park station as it is located right underneath the centre of activities,” he said.
He added the authorities had objected to an underground MRT due to high costs, but it would be a necessary investment for the long run.
“We feel that as a country, we should not look at it as a short-term investment. Singapore’s MRT has been running for 30 years while London’s Underground has been in operation since 1985*.
“Also, going underground has other cost advantages. It is expandable, and you do not need to go around buildings and highways. Furthermore, Bandar Utama City Corporation director Datuk Teo Chiang Kok has agreed to adopt the station at Bandar Utama.
“You can place the stations right at the catchment area if they are underground. For instance, you can have one station in between 1Utama and The Curve shopping malls, instead of putting it at Sri Pentas which is awkward,” he said.
The group is reaching out to more people under an effort called the Klang Valley MRT Watch, which is publicised through an official blog (kvmrtwatch.blogspot.com), Facebook (gounderground) and Twitter (@kvmrtwatch).
They target to get at least 20,000 signatures for the petition.
A separate online petition has also been started, it has already received 213 signatures in three weeks after it was put up.
The petition will be submitted to Land Transport Commission (SPAD) in May, closing date of the petition is April 30.
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*Note: There may be a slight confusion with regards to when the London Underground was built. The official London Underground website says that while the London Underground was formed under a body called the London Regional Charter in 1985, the first underground train was built between Paddington and Ferringdon Street in 1863. Therefore this makes the underground 148 years old.