Condos rock Batu Caves in Malaysia

Condos rock Batu Caves in Malaysia
Lord Murugan statue at the famous Batu Cave temples.

PETALING JAYA - Controversy is brewing in Selangor over a proposed 29-storey condominium project near Batu Caves, riling a temple management, nature lovers and local residents.

Registration for the high-rise property was recently opened on property websites and advertised as a serviced residence located "a stone's throw" from Batu Caves and boasting a "panoramic view" of the renowned natural rock formation site.

Datuk R. Nadarajah, chairman of Sri Maha Mariamman Devasathanam temple committee, which manages the Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple in Batu Caves, pledged to lead a group to protest against the project on Friday. "We oppose it. Construction work will pose a danger to the structures in Batu Caves, including the 42.7m statue of Lord Murugan.

"Batu Caves has been gazetted as a national heritage site. This project should not be allowed," he said.

"Such a large building will also be an eyesore and obstruct the scenic beauty of the area."

Nadarajah said the peaceful protest, aimed at putting pressure on the Selangor government to halt the project, "is open to all, and not just devotees."

He said the committee had not been notified of the project from the developer or local authority.

"I only came to know of it through a friend," said Nadarajah. He said the committee would send a letter of protest to the Selangor Mentri Besar today. "We will demand that he stop this project altogether," he said, adding that the committee was also mulling over legal action.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) agreed with the temple committee, saying that Batu Caves was a historical site.

"We are concerned that the development project would affect it," MNS communications head Andrew Sebastian said. MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has also voiced his objection, saying the project would "affect the stability of the caves and the structures in the temple".

Palanivel recalled that former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn had stopped quarrying work in the area during his tenure, following opposition from residents who complained that blasting had caused pollution.

Selangor state exco member in charge of Indian Affairs Dr Xavier Jayakumar said he was unaware of the project being approved by the local authority. "The hills at Batu Caves have been gazetted as a heritage property of the state. Any development in that vicinity can only be allowed after conducting an environmental impact assessment," he said.

On the planned protest, Dr Xavier said he had not received any complaints on the project.

"They should at least submit an official complaint to us first," he said.

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