SHAH ALAM, 24 January: Hindus can rest easy this coming Thaipusam as Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has announced that the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) has revoked the approval for the controversial Dolomite Park Avenue project near Batu Caves.
This steals the thunder from Prime Minister Najib Razak who had announced on Deepavali day last year that if BN wins power in Selangor in the coming election, it would cancel the condo project.
The 26-storey condominium was approved by the previous Barisan Nasional state administration in 2007. Deputy Minister A Kohilan Pillay was then a councillor in the Selayang Municipal Council which approved the project. Concerns arose over the location of the construction, planned to be just 120m away from the iconic Lord Murugan statue in Batu Caves.
Devotees expressed unease at the safety of the renowned temple built amidst 400 million year old limestone caves. After much public disapproval and media fury, a “Save Batu Caves” rally was held in October last year to express the concerns of residents and opponents of the project.
“The Selangor government will not compromise on the safety of its people for the sake of any development project,” Khalid said. He explained that the state level special task force set up to decide on the issue had reached the conclusion after listening to presentations by the Urban and Town Planning Department on the structural works conducted by the condominium project.
“The government supports projects meant for the wellbeing of the people but it must be planned carefully and in accordance with regulations,” he stressed.
This is not the first time that the Batu Caves shrine revered by 800,000 Malaysian Hindus has come under threat. Three decades ago, quarrying activities threatened the safety of the temple and in 1980, DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang had announced a “DAP Save Batu Caves Campaign” to join forces with all conservationist and environmental groups for the cause.
The campaign was successful to pressure the federal government to protect the temple from structural damage and the famous heritage site was safe – until this recent construction threat. -The Rocket