KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to protect green lungs including forest and parks, either within or adjoining the major cities across the country, to create a ‘healthier’ environment, apart from taking into consideration the local residents’ views on development.

Save Kuala Lumpur (SKL) deputy chairman Datuk M. Ali said in the capital, identified green lungs or spaces such as the ones along Jalan Damansara, Jalan Semantan up to Bukit Tunku and Bank Negara Malaysia should be gazetted as a permanent forest reserve similar to the one carried out on the Bukit Nanas Eco Park.

He said the government should hold more dialogues with the community at the grassroots level especially when comes to the development, as they would understand the history and circumstances of their area better and be able to give their views on a development project before it was approved.

“We are not against development, residents like us also have the right to be involved in all development projects, especially in the city due to the fact that the green lung in the capital is shrinking fast.

“Don’t focus solely on developers and business people, the dialogue session should involve community associations, academics, professional bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as they are also stakeholders in making decisions on any development project,” he told Bernama recently.

He said by organising a public hearing or dialogue session, it would help the government to plan the allocation effectively based on the inputs received from various parties before approving any development project.

“For example, TIA (traffic impact assessment) and SIA (social impact assessment) must be tabled, including budget allocation and expenditures to be considered to ensure that a project can be systematically implemented and not “over budget” on unnecessary development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kepong Community Services Centre chairman Yee Poh Ping expressed hope that welfare assistance for the elderly as well as the funeral services’ assistance for low-income families, irrespective of race and religion, could be provided through the 2020 Budget to be tabled by Oct 11.

“The urban poor have to bear the burden of high funeral costs and sometimes they have to apply for bank loan solely for the funeral of their deceased family members.

“If the government is concerned about them, assistance should be provided to ease their burden and to help them navigate the high cost of living,” he said.

He also hoped that the government would provide special allocation to community associations throughout the country, especially in urban areas to carry out their activities.

He said many such provisions have been abolished resulting in burden to be borne by local communities as they were facing budget deficits to carry out activities in the neighbourhood.

“For example, voluntary security team run by local residents and local community organisations require funds.

“Most of the residents living at the People’s Housing Projects (PPRs) and low-cost houses need such funding to carry out their activities. They are from the B40 group who need assistance to earn extra income and support their families,” he said. — Bernama