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10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Local council says BN government gave nod to Batu Caves condo

Zainal Abidin gestures when speaking on the Batu Caves condominium project on October 30, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — A controversial condominium project in Batu Caves that has sparked protests from the Hindu community was not approved by the Pakatan Rakyat government, the local council said today.
This comes after MIC lawmaker P. Kamalanathan denied yesterday that he was with the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) in 2007, when the Dolomite Park Avenue project was approved.
In a press conference after a MPS meeting today, president Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala said that the “Planning Approval” given on November 30, 2007 was key to every construction awarded by the council.
“This project involves two phases, both of them awarded in 2007, and the completed construction of shoplots was the first phase. The second phase is the construction of the condo units,” he explained.
Zainal Abidin also revealed that the project by Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd was approved by the Mineral and Geoscience Department during BN’s rule of Selangor despite disapproval from Department of Environment in its initial report.
The councilman plans to solve the issue by bringing it up to the State Planning Council (SPC) which will proceed accordingly.
Meanwhile, Selangor has ordered a temporary halt to the construction of the 29-storey condominium pending the findings of an independent state-level task force to be set up tomorrow, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today.
He, however, offered the state’s assurance that the matter would be resolved as soon as possible, admitting that the stop-work order would cost the developers financial losses.
The Bandar Tun Razak MP said members of the proposed independent task force will be selected during the Selangor state executive council meeting tomorrow.
MIC and Gerakan have been leading protests against the 29-storey condominium development that they say was approved by the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government, a stone’s throw from the limestone cave that houses the popular Sri Subramaniar Temple and the venue of Malaysia’s largest gathering to celebrate Thaipusam, a Hindu festival.
In response, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu revealed over the weekend that the project was given a “planning approval” in 2007 when the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition was still governing Selangor, the country’s wealthiest state.
The Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project is a sensitive issue as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.
On Friday, about 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.
Former MPS councillor Senator A. Kohillan Pillay had claimed on Friday that the current PR government, which gained control of Selangor after it defeated BN in the 2008 general election, was behind the approval of Dolomite’s plans to develop the land.
The Gerakan politician admitted he had been aware of the project since 2007 but stressed that MPS had only given approval for a commercial development proposal on “Lot 622”.

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