BY YIP YOKE TENG
PHOTOS BY LOW BOON TAT AND AZHAR MAHFOF
Bare patches like this are a common sight inside Bukit Enggang, Hulu Langat.
IT WAS once a forest reserve but was divided into hundreds of bungalow lots and given to civil servants. Sixteen years on, the picture of bungalows scattered on the hill has not materialised, instead Bukit Enggang has become a dumping ground.
The secluded hill straddling Hulu Langat, besides being a massive dump site, is also the area for activities such as logging and sand mining.
Bukit Enggang is out-of-bounds to “unauthorised vehicles”. The entry point is blocked with a boom gate and is closely guarded throughout the day.
Two ‘No Entry’ signs with rifles drawn on them serve as stern warning to outsiders but lorries laden with sand and rubbish are often spotted entering and exiting the area.
Joggers are the only outsiders allowed to enter in the morning and they are mostly from the nearby Bandar Sungai Long and Bandar Mahkota Cheras. They like to walk on the steep roads for a good workout and enjoy a good view of Hulu Langat.
However, the walk is actually a sorry experience as the roads are in bad shape, with potholes and sinking on both sides of the tarred road. In some locations, the piles of rubbish stretch as far as the eye can see.
What used to be bungalow plots given to the civil servants are all covered in thick undergrowth. Only one house can be found here and it is located right next to the entry point.
There are electricity poles along the roads but the cables are all stolen. Drains are badly broken due to soil erosion and a building that looks like a water pumphouse has been abandoned.
One can see a pond at one point but the location used to be a road, now filled up with stagnant water and dotted with litter and mosquito larvae.
About an hour’s walk from the entry point, a huge sand mining site can be spotted in a secluded area, with no sign indicating they are licensed to carry out the activities.
StarMetro attempted to contact the landowners of Bukit Enggang through a Facebook page put up to gather them. Calls to the two telephone numbers listed went unanswered and the page was later removed.
While no one lives inside Bukit Enggang currently, its ravaged condition is of concern to about 3,000 villagers of Sungai Serai, located at the foot of the hill.
Sungai Serai village head, Zainuddin Mohamad Tasar, said villagers had noticed that the once thick forest near the top of the hill had become sparse.
“We only suspected that the logging has been going on for months when we finally noticed the bare patches and truck trails in the area.
“It dawned on us then that there were lorries laden with logs and sand plying our road more frequently. They are polluting the air and damaging the roads,” he said.
He said the area where trees were felled was supposed to be a buffer zone between Bukit Enggang and Sungai Serai.
“I have made complaints to the authority but there has been no response so far. The villagers are worried especially since our village, stretching over 3km, has been hit by floods at least once every year,” he said.
Dusun Tua assemblyman Razaly Hassan said following the complaints, he had written to the Land Office to find out the status of the plots of land but that he was still waiting for a reply.
“We want to know if the plots belong to the Government, private owners or companies. Also, we are wondering if the operators have a permit and if they do, do they abide by the requirements?” he said.
An abandoned utility building inside Bukit Enggang.
The bigger picture
Razaly also highlighted that the Hulu Langat area was prone to flooding.
In light of the large-scale quarrying and development at the Langat hills, he questioned monitoring and enforcement measures put in place to ensure that the environment was not severely affected and residents’ safety protected.
He said that Dusun Tua state constituency’s population had also doubled, compared to 10 years ago.
Also, Hulu Langat, endowed with scenic locations such as Sungai Congkak, Sungai Gabai, Sungai Pangsun and Sungai Tekala, has been earmarked by the state government for tourism-related developments.
Plans are under way to upgrade the area, among them building alternative roads to ease traffic congestion along Jalan Hulu Langat.
Razaly said he wants to propose highlighting agricultural activities in Hulu Langat as an attraction to lure tourists.
But at the rate the trees are being cut and the hills laid bare, both legally and illegally, one cannot help but question the viability of such plans.