Saturday June 6, 2009
What price living in a green enclave?
By ELAN PERUMAL
No, “haze-way” is not a newly coined term, but those who often travel on the Kesas Highway to head to Klang, especially at night, will understand just what I am trying to say.
Immediately after passing the Kota Kemuning toll plaza, first-timers on the highway might feel as if they had entered another world – one shrouded by thick haze.
Welcome to the haze-way.
The haze-filled and polluted stretch continues until you reach Bandar Botanic in Klang, where the Kesas Highway ends.
For most motorists, especially those who do not live in Bandar Botanic, the hazy ride simply ends halfway through their journey.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for me and thousands of other residents of this neighbourhood that boasts a “home in garden” concept, as the haze accompanies us to our doorstep.
And, we are not the only ones facing this situation; residents of Kota Kemuning and Bukit Rimau in Shah Alam, Taman Sentosa and Bandar Puteri in Klang, too, are affected.
Since shifting to Bandar Botanic about five years ago, I have been forced to put up with the haze that seems to shroud the area every other month. So much so, that I have begun to consider the haze to be part of the local “weather condition”. In fact, you can practically rest assured that the air in this beautifully landscaped township will be polluted by the haze, except during the rainy spell.
Like many other housebuyers in the area, I had decided to shift there from another part of Klang on the premise that the township would offer a green environment and my family would be enjoying the serenity of a huge park with a lake. And, of course, the thousands of shady trees, plants and shrubs planted all around the area.
Sadly, we have been deprived of the opportunity to enjoy this greenery as we are forced to confine ourselves within the four walls of our homes, with all our doors and windows shut, lest the haze invade our homes.
The haze does not only affect visibility in the area; it is accompanied by the stench of burning – from the peat fire in Kampung Johan Setia, located across the Kesas Highway.
Besides, the farmers in Kampung Johan Setia have a reputation for conducting open burning on the waste after they have cleared the land.
We have been also hit with forest fires along the highway as a result of the drought.
The current hazy spell is the worst I have experienced since I shifted to my new house in October 2004.
The haze has made the current hot, dry spell even more oppressive as we are forced to stay in our stuffy homes. Moreover, the pollutants pose a health hazard. As a result, many are suffering from respiratory and eye conditions like asthma, bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and conjunctivitis.
My nine-year-old daughter has had a bad cough for more than a month now. It really hurts me to watch her waking up in the middle of the night, coughing loudly for long periods, despite faithfully taking the medication prescribed by doctors. And, my wife recently spotted blood in her sputum due to her persistent cough.
Meanwhile, my younger sister, who also resides in the neighbourhood, was admitted to a medical centre with lung infection.
As no one in our family tree has ever suffered from serious respiratory infections, my sister’s situation has only raised alarm at the serious health hazard to which we are being exposed.
Despite all the talk of checking peat fires and preventing open buring in Johan Setia, year in and year out, we have yet to see the authorities taking any concrete steps to solve this pertinent issue that sickens thousands of us.
It appears to me that residents in these areas will have to endure the suffering for the rest of their lives.
What a heavy price to pay for choosing to live in a home in a garden.