NGO wants a halt to projects on Penang Hill

GEORGE TOWN - The state government should stop all developments earmarked for Penang Hill pending a detailed study by the authorities to prevent further land clearing by owners.

Penang Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) chapter adviser D. Kanda Kumar said full mapping of the hill land must be carried out.

The public must be informed about hillslope developments.

Kanda said this would enable eco-friendly and sustainable development for the hill.

"What is worrying us is that more and more bare patches are appearing on the hill, especially near the viewing structures.

"We do not know how long more before the developments encroach on these sensitive areas.

"A good example is the destruction of the state's mangrove and forest reserves," he said yesterday.

Checks by the New Straits Times showed several bald patches on both sides of the hill's railway line, with irregular cuts, terraces and structures built haphazardly.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group said this could have been caused by rampant hill-clearing activities for agricultural purposes.

Kanda said the state government had failed to address the matter because of its weak political will.

"There has to be a strong political will so that actions can be taken against those who are responsible."

He said the state government and local authorities should also stop renewing the temporary occupational licences (TOLs) of those involved.

In response, state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the committee would look into MNS' suggestions.

"The TOL comes under the Land Office.

"I will bring MNS' recommendations to the attention of the state executive council."