PENANG — Penang Gerakan Secretary Oh Tong Keong urged the state government to set up an independent hilly slopes development committee to monitor adverse environmental impact arising from these developments as well as illegal hill clearance.
The committee should comprise leaders from the political divides, the relevant experts, the relevant government departments and environment-centred NGOs.
Oh also appealed for restraint of over-clearance of the hilly slopes so as to halt the torrential flash floods from becoming a common sight in the state.
“The state government should also come up with a blueprint and guidelines with the help of relevant geological experts,” he said.
Oh made this appeal at a press conference held at Mutiara Indah Flats in Bukit Gambier, following a stream of muddy waterfall at the slopes behind the said flats after a downpour early Wednesday morning.
Oh said the mini waterfall from this hill slope was normally clean and clear, and might become slightly milky after rain. But to the astonishment of the residents, the flush of the water down the hill on that day looked like “teh tarik” after one or two hours of downpour.
“What will happen if the rain lasts more than seven hours, will landslides occur?”
He said he was informed by residents that this was the second occurrence within two weeks in the area.
“This is a cause of concern for the local residents looking at the indifferent attitude of the state authority by just sending a few officers to inspect the situation without any follow-up action. This “teh tarik” waterfall not only happened in Bukit Gambier on that day, but also at the Paya Terubong hilly areas as well,” he said.
In a related matter, Penang Gerakan State Liaison Committee member Tan Kah Leong took a swipe at Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who claimed to always subscribe to the opinions of the experts.
“But which expertise has he sought on the matter of over clearance of the hilly lands in Penang?”
Tan said several experts had given their say on the hilly land developments.
“Don’t tell us that only those experts who toe the line of the Chief Minister are considered true experts, otherwise, they are only “Google” experts? Don’t tell us that after the court had slammed the relevant developer with a RM30,000 fine over the botak hill’s issue, the problem is considered resolved without further action to restore the original state of the hilly lands concerned?”
In a press statement, Tan also expressed concern whether the construction of the proposed new access roads at Paya Terubong would aggravate the mudslides problem in the area.
He said Paya Terubong Road was being affected by falling boulders and flash floods because of the rampant hilly slope developments nearby.
The heavy downpour has caused boulders to fall down from the hill behind Taman Hijau, in Paya Terubong Road and muddy waterfall flushed down. In consequences the flash floods in the main road caused massive traffic crawls. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.
Tan said the local residents and businessmen complained that unlike previous flash floods, this time the muddy flood water made life difficult for them as they had to spend more time to clear off the mud.
“They have reasons to believe that the muddy water was caused by the recent rampant housing developments in the vicinity,” Tan added.