Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Beyond environmental concerns, Selangor could lose up to RM700 million in transfer of forest reserve

While some RM320 million in premium is expected, the land's value is estimated to be far more.

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The Selangor government could lose some RM700 million through its act of transferring roughly 530 hectares of forest land to a private developer, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

Sources in the state government said the transfer of ownership for the forest reserve in Kuala Langat, which was first approved by the exco late last year, had not gone through open tender.

The state government initially awarded the land to a state-owned company, but then transferred it to Titian Jutaria Sdn Bhd, where Selangor crown prince Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Idris Shah is a director.

The company was formed in late 2018, with a paid-up capital of RM100,000.

On Monday, Selangor’s exco in charge of environment Hee Loy Sian told the state assembly that the PKR-led government had degazetted more than 530 hectares of the Kuala Langat North Reserve Forest for a mixed commercial development by private company Gabungan Indah Sdn Bhd.

Titian Jutaria, meanwhile, appeared to be no longer in existence.

The decision to award the land to Gabungan Indah was reached on May 5 and confirmed two weeks later.

Hee also said that the land was destroyed by fire and as such had been degraded.

‘Land value at least RM1 billion’

Last year, Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari told the state assembly that Selangor would get about RM320 million in premium for rights to the land, to be paid by the developer.

A source familiar with the property sector said while there are concerns over the depleting forest reserves, there is also the question of how much the state government would lose in the deal.

It said the land’s value was estimated “at least RM1 billion”, about RM700 million more than what it would be getting in premium rights.

“Next door, Gamuda is developing a township,” the source said, referring to the Gamuda Cove township by developer Gamuda Land, which spans some 1,500 acres and is expected to be completed in phases by 2038.

“That project is expected to bring in profit of RM20 billion,” the source added.

It also said that the estimated land value had yet to take into account the “huge stock of timber”, as well as the forests’ “irreplaceable” value in maintaining the critical ecological balance.

Gamuda Cove, located near KLIA, is a massive development divided into several districts including residential and commercial areas.

Amirudin had promised to postpone the decision following the latest public backlash.

The Kuala Langat forest was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1927, covering more than 7,000 hectares, although only about 13% of that area remains a green lung today.

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