Rethink route of Cross Island MRT line

Straits Times Forum 29 May 13;

THE proposal to run the Cross Island Line across the gazetted Central Catchment Nature Reserve is a cause for concern ("Route of MRT line a concern: Nature Society"; last Saturday).

At stake is a national treasure trove of biodiversity - a verdant stretch of primary, secondary and young forest that supports many native plants and trees, and is home to insects, animals, birds and fishes.

Water from natural sources there drains into the surrounding reservoirs. The vast catchment forest also acts as a green lung in the central part of our island, providing clean air and counteracting the greenhouse effect.

Even if the rail system runs underground, much construction work will have to be done on the surface, such as providing access to transportation and building site offices.

Large tracts of forest would have to be cleared. This means erosion, pollution, noise and a whole host of other ill effects.

One wonders how an Environmental Impact Assessment can have anything positive to say about such a venture.

That such a proposal came to pass throws into question the claims by the Government of its commitment to protect the environment. It seems that even a gazetted nature reserve is no longer protected.

There should not be soft or easy options, and certainly not explanations such as "this is the most direct and shortest route across".

I urge the Government to seriously rethink the route of the line and avoid the destruction of a major part of our natural heritage.

Chia Yong Soong

Cross Island Line: LTA must be proactive in engaging stakeholders
Straits Times Forum 29 May 13;

THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) must be proactive and sincere in engaging stakeholders when planning the Cross Island Line, whose present design has tracks cutting across the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Area ("Route of MRT line a concern: Nature Society"; last Saturday).

Nature reserves are sensitive habitats and gazetted areas, and the LTA should have anticipated the concerns of stakeholders before unveiling its plans in January.

There were apparently no proactive attempts to engage or consult stakeholders before the announcement.

Concerned stakeholders have waited patiently for four months to engage LTA to understand its plans for the Environmental Impact Assessment and feasibility studies. How much longer do they have to wait?

The LTA should come forward with a concrete date for the stakeholder engagement.

Now is the time for it to be proactive and sincere in engaging the Nature Society and interested individuals and groups. The future of our nature reserves is at stake.

Eugene Tay Tse Chuan