Residents against destruction of environment in Penang

As developers get ready to erect more high-rise buildings on the hillslopes of Penang island, more people have come out to protest against what they see as the destruction of the environment.

At least nine projects are believed to be in the pipeline in Tanjung Bunga and Batu Feringghi along the northeastern coast of the island, Bukit Gambier near Universiti Sains Malaysia in Gelugor and Sungai Ara in the southwestern interior.

Among the development projects which came under heavy scrutiny and criticism was the land reclamation in Bayan Mutiara in the south-east of the island.

Tanjung Bunga Residents Association chairman George Aeria said the area could not sustain any more high-rise buildings.

He added: “As land becomes more scarce, developers are moving towards the hills, but they are not only building on the slopes they are cutting into them.

“We are seeing mud and muddy water streaming down to the sea.”

Sunrise Garden Kondominium management committee chairman Manuel Nicholas said high-rise buildings had to be spread out for proper development.

He disagreed that there was insufficient flat land on the island.

“There is a lot of space and flat land on the west coast of the island. If proper roads and facilities are built, people would want to move there,” he said. Sunrise Garden is in Sungai Ara.

The state government has come under heavy criticism for hillslope developments since 2008.

On May 30, residents of Mount Pleasure in Batu Feringghi objected to the approval given by the Penang Municipal Council for the construction of 21 four-storey villas and 80 double-storey bungalows.

A group calling themselves the Concerned Residents of Mount Pleasure have been objecting to the development in their area since January 2010.

On the other side of the island, Sungai Ara residents protested against the approval issued by the council for two hillside development projects on April 8.

Both the Penang Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat have blamed each other for the situation, accusing the other of approving the projects or failing to revise the plans.

While Pakatan leaders have said that some of the projects were approved by the then Barisan government, there have been allegations that a huge project stalled by the previous government was approved by the present state government. - By DAVID TAN, CHRISTINA CHIN and ANDREA FILMER (The Star)

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