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08 Dec 2019
Ministry of Environment
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Divert savings from Cross Island Line to local conservation efforts

The Ministry of Transport's decision for the MRT Cross Island Line (CRL) to run directly under Singapore's largest nature reserve is unfortunate (Cross Island Line to take direct route under nature reserve, Dec 5).

Although the plan has come a long way after six years of consultation with experts and nature groups, it still ignores the fundamental sanctity of a nature reserve.

This sets a worrying precedent of development being prioritised over the protection of natural resources, despite evidence supporting the preservation of such spaces.

It is estimated that $2 billion will be saved in the construction of this shorter train route. While the savings are substantial, they do not justify the potential impact to the nature reserve.

Singapore is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which states that signatories should integrate biodiversity values into national development by next year. The decision to construct the CRL beneath the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) runs counter to this ideal.

However, as this decision has already been made, it is important to look beyond just mitigating potential impact. The funds saved by this alignment should be redirected at least in part to local conservation efforts.

There are many important biodiversity areas that could benefit from improved protection and infrastructure. For example, an eco-link (such as the one constructed across the Bukit Timah Expressway) could be built to connect the Mandai forest with the rest of the CCNR.

Singapore's biodiversity also stands to benefit from more research funding. New species are constantly being discovered in Singapore's forests and shores. It is vital to channel the savings towards such efforts to understand Singapore's biodiversity better.

Conservation of green spaces should be integrated into our nation-building ideology. This goes beyond engineering adaptive measures to counter climate challenges.

The existing green spaces are not simply land banks for development (Stop treating green spaces as land banks, Nov 18). They serve as important carbon sinks and homes to native biodiversity.

Sankar Ananthanarayanan

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/divert-savings-from-cross-island-line-to-local-conservation-efforts


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