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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Court orders Bukit Cherakah portion to stay gazetted for now

Part of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve will remain gazetted pending a hearing of a legal challenge against its degazettement.

The Shah Alam High Court today allowed the application by two environmental groups to temporarily stay the Selangor state government’s plan to proceed with the degazettement.

The order issued by judge Shahnaz Sulaiman was granted pending the hearing of a judicial review leave application on Sept 28.

The Shah Alam Community Forest Society (SACF) and Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) are seeking leave to commence the judicial review to overturn the degazettement.

Degazettement refers to the removal of legal protection against development in relation to a forest area.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, the two environmental groups’ counsel Rajesh Nagarajan confirmed the court’s decision.

“There was a hearing held with regards to the Bukit Cherakah judicial review application.

“The learned judge granted an interim stay against the degazettement of Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve pending leave hearing on Sept 28,” the lawyer said.

Senior federal counsel Nur Irmawatie Daud appeared for the respondents for the judicial review, namely the Selangor state government, its executive councillors, state forestry department directors and the Petaling Land and Mines Department.

If the court grants leave, then it would set another date to hear the merits of the judicial review.

Backdating notification

The environmentalists seek to challenge the legality of the degazettement of 406ha of land in the forest reserve.

The applicants claimed that the degazettement decision was obsolete as it was made 22 years ago.

They also claimed it was unlawful for the state government to backdate the gazette notification - issued on May 5 this year by the state forestry department - referring back to the state executive council’s decision made in 2000.

In May, there was viral news about the statement on the degazetting of 406.22ha of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, Section U10, allegedly done without a public hearing process in accordance with Section 11 of the Selangor State Forestry Act (EAPN) 1985.

EAPN was amended by the Selangor government in 2011.

Last month, the Selangor Forestry Department clarified that the May 5 gazette notification to degazette the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve is to complete the delisting process that stopped in 2006.

Environmentalists argued that the state government should have held a public inquiry per the National Forestry Act (Amendment) Enactment 2011. - Mkini

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