Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is gravely concerned and alarmed over earthworks and hill-cutting being carried out on very steep slopes at Mount Erskine in Penang, quite close to the Mont Residence apartments in Tanjung Tokong.
SAM was alerted to the hill-cutting by concerned Penangites, who shared pictures of the on-going earthworks.
We understand that a significant part of the hill cutting involves slopes above 250 feet (75 m) and are on very steep gradient above 25 degrees.
SAM has also learnt that in September 2018, Penang Hills Watch (PHW), which is an NGO initiative, alerted the State Authorities and the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) about the hill cutting activities.
We understand that PHW was informed that “mitigation works” were being carried out at the site, which is on land belonging to the state government.
SAM calls on the state authority and the MBPP to explain what these “mitigation works” are and how come such steep slopes are being cut and cleared?
The state policy under the Penang Structure Plan is to protect hill lands and not allow earthworks on lands above 250 feet or slopes which exceed 25-degree gradient, and given that this is public land, we are alarmed that such hill-cutting and clearing is going on.
Further, we are very concerned that with many parts of the slopes being bare, with this rainy season, serious soil erosion will result, contributing to landslips and flash floods in the area.
We are very worried of a repeat of landslide tragedies such as that at the Granito site and the Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong which led to the death of workers working in the area.
The State authorities and the MBPP must provide an explanation urgently on the on-going works, and also take urgent measures to prevent the likely environment and social impacts caused by such hill-cutting and earthworks activities.