SAM urges review of hillsite development projects

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the relevant government agencies to review projects on hill land in Penang, especially in areas that have been earmarked for future development projects.

Commenting on the recent flash floods and mud floods that struck several areas in Paya Terubong, Bayan Baru and Sungai Dua, SAM expressed hope that the respective parties should take heed of what has happened, where it clearly shows that development on hill land have implications for the environment and subsequently wellbeing of the people.

In addition, it is reported that a landslide also occurred at Bukit Gambier, nearly affecting a neighbouring residential area. Among the causes of these problems are due to development on the hills. We are concerned that if this issue is not handled effectively, similar problems will happen in other areas where there are plans for development on hill land.

The landslide incident is very worrying because the safety of residents is not guaranteed although the developers say that they followed all guidelines stipulated by the authorities.

The Penang Guideline for Hillsite Development 2012 was formulated to address and upgrade existing safety measures and outline better project implementation procedures and effective enforcement. The preamble of the Guideline states that with its proper implementation, the Guideline will inspire confidence in the safety of hillsite developments in Penang.

However from SAM’s observation, housing projects on hill slopes involves cutting of slope and disturbs the natural surroundings which is likely to result in an unstable region, soil movement, erosion and slope failure.

The authorities should also take into consideration the cumulative impact on the entire area and not just focus on potential landslide areas. SAM hopes that the responsible parties are more sensitive to this matter and take necessary measures for the sake of environmental protection and public wellbeing.

Press Statement, 25 September 2015