BN rep alleges rampant hill clearing in Balik Pulau

BY OPALYN MOK
Teluk Bahang assemblyman Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain (second left) visiting the cleared hill slope. — Pix by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 24 — A Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblyman alleged today that there was unchecked hill clearing in Balik Pulau which had caused flooding in the villages nearby.

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain, who visited one of the hill clearing works in Kampung Sungai Rusa in Balik Pulau, said the clearing works had led to muddy floods affecting the village when it rained.

“I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal, but this could be the cause of the mud and flood in the village as the hill slope is now bare,” he said.

He called on Penang Island City Council (MBPP) enforcement officers to check all hill clearing works in his constituency to ensure that no illegal hill clearing was being conducted.

A large swath of hill land has been cleared at Kampung Sungai Rusa with a row of terrace houses built on the bottom and wooden houses on stilts perching on the slopes.

“Almost 60 per cent of my constituency are hill land and sensitive water catchment areas, so it is important to check and stop any illegal hill clearing works that could cause landslides,” he said.

He added that some individual landowners in Balik Pulau and Teluk Bahang were not aware of the regulations against hill slope clearing and were not aware of the danger it could cause.

“The MBPP must educate these landowners to make sure that they do not clear their lands, especially on hill slopes without permit,” he said.

Shah Headan together with Penang Gerakan Youth chief Jason Loo visited a cleared hill slope at a village in Jalan Sungai Rusa today.

The hill slope was cleared of all vegetation, while a row of single storey houses was built on flat land at the bottom of the slope.

Three wooden chalet houses on stilts were also built near the slope, perching precariously on boulders jutting out from the slope.

The landowner, Mohamad Nazri Abd Latiff, 24, who lived in one of the terrace houses, came out to greet Shah Headen and admitted he had cleared the hill slope without applying for any permit.

“I was only clearing it to build my house and the council came to tell me to do slope maintenance works first before applying for planning permission to build on the slope,” he said.

He insisted the land was on a 25m slope, lower than the 75m slope regulation against any sort of development on hill land.

He said the council issued him a summons back in 2012 for constructing four terrace houses without permit and his case is still pending to be heard in court.

“The council enforcement came to check many times and told me to conduct slope maintenance works so this is what I’m doing now, I’ve planted grass on it,” he said.

The hill slope is still bare except for a few patches of grass on it.