By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR | Jan 24, 2013
Selangor has decided to stop the controversial construction of a luxury 26-storey condominium in Batu Caves due to safety concerns, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced today, heading off a major pre-polls political crisis that has become a sore point with Selangor’s Hindu community.
In a statement here, Khalid said the decision was made after the state-level independent task force met last Tuesday to evaluate the project’s structural plans and study the safety and environmental risks it poses to the nearby iconic Batu Caves temple.
“In the meeting, the Urban and Town Planning Department presented in detail the status of the structural works of the Batu Caves condominium, as well as its level of safety.
“After hearing the explanation, I decided that the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) should revoke the approval given to Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd to construct the 26-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium,” he said.
Khalid added that the decision was made for the safety of those in the area, apart from protecting the environment.
He expressed hope that all parties would accept the state’s final decision on the matter, after taking into consideration that it was made due to safety concerns.
“The Selangor government will not compromise on the safety of its people for the sake of any development project,” he said.
“The government supports projects meant for the wellbeing of the people but it must be planned carefully and in accordance with regulations.”
On October 30 last year, Selangor ordered a temporary halt to the construction of the luxury building near the Batu Caves temple pending the findings of the state-level taskforce.
At the time, the first-term mentri besar had also offered the state’s assurance that the matter would be resolved as soon as possible, admitting that the stop-work order would come at a cost to the project’s developers.
The luxury Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has become a political hot potato between the state’s Pakatan Rakyat-led (PR) government and its predecessors in Barisan Nasional (BN) as the Batu Caves temple is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the country’s 1.7 million Indians.
About 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally at the temple complex last October 26 to protest the construction, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds.
The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, before PR came to power in Selangor, but when the matter hit headlines recently, MIC and BN immediately stepped in to pressure PR to stop the project.