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PUTRAJAYA, April 5 -- The Northern alignment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project from Mentakab to Port Klang, which has now been revised, will not pass through the Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge (PKGS) and Batu Dam areas.
“The Northern alignment was designed to reduce environmental impact,” Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said.
He said the Transport Ministry (MOT) will ensure the project will not affect PKGS is now in the process of being recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Wee said the proposed rail design for that stretch was a multi-level one that will traverse existing routes along the ridge.
“In short, the ECRL route will avoid the Gombak Quartz Ridge and will not affect its protection zone," he said in a press conference here today.
The Batu Dam that supplies water to the people of Selangor and the Klang Valley will also not be affected, Wee said, adding that it will also not go through populated areas in the Gombak district.
He said although there were seven forest reserves, including Ulu Gombak, Templer, Serendah and Rantau Panjang that the Northern line might pass through, several tunnels stretching 15.22 kilometres (km) would be built to reduce deforestation.
He said the Northern alignment is expected to pass through three water catchment areas between Mentakab and Port Klang, and at least four more along the Southern line.
“The impact on areas along the Northern alignment is not as big as the Southern one. For example, under the Land Acquisition Act, the north line is expected to involve 4,302 lots compared to the southern alignment which is 6,038 lots," he said.
Wee said there will be less amount of land taken and less government compensation payable to landowners because most of them involve existing land and railway tracks belonging to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB).
Generally, Wee said the Northern alignment may affect 11 housing areas along its 201 km stretch compared to 19 residential areas along the South Line.
"As for the Orang Asli community, it is in favour of the Northern alignment because only two Orang Asli areas are affected compared to seven areas for the South," he said.
On Malay Reserve Land impacted meanwhile, he said two areas will be affected under the Northern alignment, namely in Gombak and Rantau Panjang and three more - Beranang, Jenderam and Dengkil in the South.
Asked whether the country could afford the construction costs at this time, Wee said the project was financed by a soft loan from China through the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), totalling 85 per cent while the rest was through the issuance of sukuk.
“Only RM2.5 billion is funded by the government which has been approved by the Finance Ministry in the next six years," he said.