Cross Island Line

Zero impact on nature not realistic in S'pore

The debate over the impact of the Cross Island MRT Line on nature and on residents highlights the need to have moderate and diverse views, so that a balanced and informed decision can result.

There are some arguments raised in the debate that we should all be mindful of.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife Consultancy, was quoted as saying that "homes, however, can be cleared and rebuilt" ("$2b extra cost if MRT line skirts reserve"; Monday).

Unless we are residents of affected areas, we should not make such judgments.

Such an argument gives the impression that homes can be easily rebuilt, but the lives of those affected may be altered forever, and the life of those residents as they knew it may never be rebuilt.

Stakeholders such as the Nature Society (Singapore) should also moderate their views.

The society's Mr Tony O'Dempsey called for the construction of the MRT line to have zero impact on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve ("Call for 'zero impact' on nature reserve"; Feb 14).

This is an extreme view because, living in land-scarce and densely populated Singapore, this is not realistic.

On the Nature Society's website, there is no mention of zero impact. Its mission statements are clear and easy to accept:

•To promote nature awareness and nature appreciation

•To advocate conservation of the natural environment in Singapore

•To forge participation and collaboration in local, regional and international efforts in preserving Earth's biodiversity

Zero impact is something that is not enforceable in Singapore, so we should not make such a call any more.

The fact that we spent $17 million on the Eco-Link@BKE - to restore the ecological connection between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, which were separated because of the construction of the Bukit Timah Expressway - and $1 billion on Gardens by the Bay shows that the Government wants to preserve our natural environment and allow future generations to enjoy various nature attractions.

Strong lobbying by green groups has, to some extent, been too extreme, resulting in an unbalanced view presented to the public.

Let's allow the Government to do its thorough assessment and make a balanced decision that prioritises serving the larger community.

Whatever the outcome, I hope for a better and more efficient transport system.

The building of the Cross Island MRT Line is the right decision and must go ahead.

Robin Lim Jit Piow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Zero impact on nature not realistic in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe