GEORGE TOWN, Nov 13 — The Penang government will continue to allow hill slope developments as long as they meet all safety regulations, the state legislative assembly was told today.
Local government and housing development committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state government will not stop developments on hill slopes that are below 76m from the sea level.
“I want to stress that in any development plan, we have always stressed on the safety of the project, whether it is infrastructure or housing project,” he said when replying to a question on hill slope developments in the state.
He said Penang is the only state with a regulation that forbids developments on hill slopes that are 76m above sea level.
“We don’t allow high rise development that are on slopes above Class 1 and 2, namely above gradient of 25 degrees,” he said.
On the landslide incident in Tanjung Bunga at the Granito housing project site last year, Jagdeep said the state government was often accused of allowing developments on lands 76m above sea level.
He pointed out that even the federal government does not have such strict guidelines on developments on hill slopes.
“The federal government even allows developments on lands 300m above sea level,” he said.
Jagdeep said he had proposed that the federal government adopts the same guidelines as Penang with regards to hill slope developments.
“I have spoken to the ministers and I was told that they will look into my proposal,” he said.
He said Penang is short of land and the island is saturated so the state needed to look at solutions for more land.
“This is why we looked at land reclamation, the Penang South Reclamation project, but the NGOs opposed to it, we build on the hills, they too opposed it,” he said, referring to the recent furore by non-governmental organisations (NGO) against the state’s various infrastructure projects.
Mohd Yusni Mat Piah (PAS—Penaga) then asked why the Granito and Bukit Kukus landslides occurred when there were strict guidelines on hill slope developments.
Jagdeep replied that the state will not allow any project that did not comply with the state’s strict regulations.
“Let’s not accuse the state of wanting these incidents to happen and causing the deaths in these incidents, these kind of incidents have been happening for many years not only in Penang but in the whole country,” he said.
He said the police is already investigating the Bukit Kukus incident for criminal negligence on top of various investigations launched by several government agencies.
Last month, a landslide occurred at the Bukit Kukus paired road construction site killing nine workers while in October last year, the landslide at the Granito project site killed 11 workers.
Jagdeep said the royal commission of inquiry into the Granito incident is currently at the submissions stage so the findings is yet to be out.
The Bukit Kukus incident attracted a few questions from backbenchers and the Opposition in the House that Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang even allowed more questions to be asked.
“I am allowing more additional questions to be asked now so that we get this topic out of the way, so any more questions?” he asked after Jagdeep finished reading his reply.
Law said he wanted to allow everyone a chance to ask questions now so that this issue will not be raised repeatedly after this.