Penang to monitor hillside development

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The Penang government has issued directives to the local authority to monitor and take preventive measures, including stop-work orders, to avert a ‘Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy’ in the island state.

Shaken by the tragic events in Bukit Antarabangsa, a visibly upset Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will request the Penang Island Municipal Council president Zainal Rahim Seman to carry out immediate inspections on hillside developments, especially in Batu Ferringhi and Penang Hill.

"The council shall issue even stop-work orders if developers were found to have flouted rules and regulations pertaining to hillside development.

"The order would allow the developers to rectify the problems and carry out remedial works, including building retention ponds, in accordance with council demands," he told newsmen after attending the international conference entitled ‘The New Economic Vision for Penang and Malaysia' in Georgetown’s Traders Hotel on Saturday.

The council has issued stop-work orders against developers of five hillside projects for failing to comply with local plan conditions some four months ago.

But these were revoked after the council was satisfied with the remedial works carried out by the developers.

Although Penang has not experienced major landslide tragedies in the last 11 years, the state government however, was not taking any chance.

"Just because Penang did not suffer from landslide tragedy, it does not mean there won’t be any," he cautioned.

Warning ignored in landslide prone areas

The last major landslide to take place in Penang island was when tonnes of soil gave way and collapse from Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong, burying and damaging at least 15 vehicles, including a factory bus, parked below the hill.

During heavy rain spells, there are frequent landslides in the hillside area along the roads linking Paya Terubong in the northeast district and Balik Pulau in southwest district of the island.

A study carried out by a geo-technical research unit under the Works Ministry about 10 years ago had earmarked the Paya Terubong-Balik Pulau hillside as a landslide prone area unsuitable for high-rise high-density township development.

Despite this warning, the Paya Terubong hill ravine is mushroomed with high-rise residential and commercial flats.

Lim said the state government was committed to achieve sustainable development that would utilise and preserve available resources for future use.

"Sustainable development is the benchmark for current and future development in this state," he said.

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