Penang CM defends hill projects

Lim Guan Eng has defended the Penang Government's stand in treating hillslope development, saying that it has the “most stringent” guidelines for it.

The Penang Chief Minister said the present state government had not approved a single project above 250 feet (76m) high, adding that it was the only state in Malaysia which had set such a bar.

“Penang has the most stringent guidelines for hillslope safety development in the country, crafted by Oxford-trained geotechnical engineer Prof Dr Gue See Sew, a former international chairman of the coordinating committee of Apec Engineers and president of the Institute of Engineers Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said that half of the 38 hillslope projects approved the last two years for heights below 76m were for open space and green areas without any building structures.

Lim took a swipe at some other states, which he said allowed development on hills above the height of 76m.

“Thirty-one development projects were approved by the previous Barisan Nasional state government on hill land above 250 feet (76m) compared to none by the present Pakatan Rakyat state government,” he added.

He said according to the Penang Municipal Council, eight projects on hills above 76m were approved from 1985 to 2004, three in 2005, 10 in 2006, eight in 2007 and two between January and March 2008.

The chief minister also addressed the issue of the rise in property prices, saying that there was also a similar rise in Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

The Star had reported on Penang's various hillslope projects and the rise in property prices in the state.

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) here has called on the state government to practise sustainable development.

Citizens Awareness Chant group adviser Yan Lee said hillslope developments would effect environmentally sensitive water catchment areas like Sungai Ara.

“Such developments require proper studies and environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports. Some projects do not require an EIA because of the development size but nonetheless, one should be done if the projects threaten the environment,” he said.

Lee said the Federal Government, through the relevant ministry, had the discretion to request an EIA in such a situation, expressing hope that such discretion would be exercised in hillslope developments here.

“A crematorium project about 1km away from the Ayer Itam Dam recently received planning permission from the Penang Municipal Council. This is an example of where the EIA report is needed, though not required.” - By Christina Chin and Winnie Yeoh
(The Star)

1 comment

July 3, 2012 at 10:27 AMcondomana

I think we realized something is very wrong during the 2-hour down pour yesterday. You see a lot of mud being washed down around construction sites near the hills. Water flows are choked even in sloppy areas as the drains that we built have not kept up with the rapid change of man-made terrain. Trees have been chopped down to make way for condos to be sold to speculators and foreigners. The tree roots that hold the soil together for hundreds of years are no longer there anymore. Thank God there was no incident of building collapsing in the area, but if there were, we have no one but ourselves to blame for allowing all these developments.

Do we know what we are doing? Are the current regulations enough? STOP before it's too late!