Concerns over widening bald spot on hill

Vanishing greenery: This photo sent in by The Star reader, Mohd Haniff, appears to show the balding patch on ‘Botak Hill’ on Bukit Relau, George Town getting bigger.

The view of Bukit Relau from Penang Bridge is still a source of worry for Penangites because the bald patch there appears to be growing bigger.

A reader, who wished to be known only as, Mohd Haniff took three photographs of the hill, known cynically as Botak (Bald) Hill while driving into the island on Penang Bridge.

It showed that on top of the previously bared hilltop, a lower section on the hillside appears to have been cleared as well, revealing naked laterite soil.

He said the hill seemed to be getting worse and urged for it to be highlighted.

When contacted, state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh assured that remedial works were under way.

“The contractor has to shape the terrace to preserve the structure and prevent anymore erosion. They also have to remove loose boulders and replant grass and trees. All of the conditions set by the city council are being observed,” Phee said.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow replied in a text message urging Penangites to give the contractors time to do the mitigation works.

The reassurances, however, have not soothed worries.

Penang MCA chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, in a statement, wondered if the state government was “out of touch with the common folk and biased towards property developers”.

She pointed out several other hill works in Bukit Tambun, Tok Kangar hill, Juru, Batu Kawan, Berapit, Kubang Semang and Simpang Empat and asked Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to explain the vanishing greenery, and why the state was ignoring public inquiries and concerns regarding these hills.

“If you (Lim) have no intention of heeding the pleas of long-time residents to protect the greenery of Penang’s hills, at least spare a thought for your own DAP comrade and Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu,” Chew said, referring to additional development projects planned in Tanjung Bungah’s hillside.

The top of Bukit Relau in Gelugor was stripped bare in 2013 by a developer without written approval from the city council after the state rezoned the hill for housing in 2012.

In mid-July, the council issued a statement that mitigation works began in April and was expected to be completed this month-end. - By The Star

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