A subway tunnel under Singapore's rainforest? No way, say activists

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Singaporean activists against subway tunnel under rainforest
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A subway tunnel under Singapore's rainforest? No way, say activists
Cars drive along a stretch of highway on the perimeters of the central catchment area in Singapore March 2, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Francis Yap, 47, a businessman and avid bird photographer, listens for birds on a watch tower in MacRitchie Nature Reserve, in the central catchment area in Singapore March 16, 2016. Yap said "Its calming and soothing...sometimes I make photographs and sometimes I don't, but there is a magic here, we are connecting with nature. " REUTERS/Edgar Su 
A lone tree stands in front of skyscrapers in the central business district in Singapore March 21, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
A monkeys sits on a sign asking visitors not to feed monkeys at the entrance to the MacRitchie Nature Reserve in Singapore March 17, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Raymond Goh (L), a pharmacist, and his brother Charles who are active tomb explorers and history enthusiasts, read a tombstone on the outskirts of the central catchment area in Singapore March 20, 2016. Raymond, on how a subway will affect the nature reserve, " We don't know what will be the ultimate outcome if a subway is built under it, but with so little forest remaining, we should not be taking any chances. " REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Kok Oi Yee, 74, who works at a university's natural history museum and a volunteer nature tour guide on weekends, introduces the fauna and floral along a trail in MacRitchie Nature Reserve located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 19, 2016. Kok said "This is something we ought to learn to treasure, we don't want to see it being lost, once its lost it will take hundreds of years before the forest regenerates." REUTERS/Edgar Su 
A view of trees in the central catchment area surrounded by the city skyline in Singapore March 2, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
A flying lemur is perched on a tree at MacRitchie Nature Reserve located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 19, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Youths paddle in their kayaks in MacRitchie reservoir located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 12, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su
People run on a trail in MacRitchie Nature Reserve located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 16, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) is perched on a tree in MacRitchie Nature Reserve located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 19, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Runners take a trail in MacRitchie Nature Reserve located at the central catchment area in Singapore March 18, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A monkey feeds its baby on the outskirts of the central catchment area in Singapore March 17, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
Volunteers speak about how the Cross Island Line subway will affect the central catchment area as they lead a nature tour in MacRitchie Nature Reserve in Singapore March 19, 2016. A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. REUTERS/Edgar Su 
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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species.

They are appealing to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to re-route the 50 kms (31 mile) Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve near the MacRitchie Reservoir, rather than through it.

The city-state is spending billions of dollars to upgrade its subway system to cope with a rising population in one of the most densely populated countries, which penalizes car ownership through hefty taxes.

But the LTA's plan is not going down well with nature-lovers, which are organizing guided walks around the reserve, exhibitions and talks, and producing music videos to lobby for the route to be changed. (http://bit.ly/24qnrUk)

An online petition supporting the re-routing of the line away from the nature reserve has received over 7,790 signatures.

"A lot of our forests have already been lost to development and we can't afford to lose much more of them because there's so little left," said Sankar Ananthanarayanan, co-founder of the Herpetological Society and a life-sciences university student.

A network of freshwater streams in the reserve supports a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including more than 1,000 species of flowering plants and over 500 species of animals.

LTA Chief Executive Chew Men Leong said in a letter in the Straits Times Forum page this week that taking the new line around the reserve would cost an extra S$2 billion ($1.4 billion) to build. Industry experts estimate the overall cost could amount could be as much as S$40.7 billion.

He said the government was studying both options for the underground route but had not yet made a decision.

(Editing by Anshuman Daga and Michael Perry)


Activists Oppose Tunnel Under Singapore Forest
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