GEORGE TOWN, Oct 31 — A citizen’s group is demanding that Penang’s Public Accounts Committee table its report on hill slope management to the state assembly, after a lawmaker shared the paper’s existence.
Citizen Awareness Chant Group legal advisor Yan Lee said tabling the report in the state assembly would subsequently make it available to the public, adding that the report was believed to have been distributed to lawmakers in May.
“The report was posted on Facebook by Penanti assemblyman Norlela Ariffin and based on that report, the PAC has made some observations on hill rehabilitation and also on Bukit Relau,” he told reporters today.
“The PAC report outlined several guidelines on how to stop illegal clearing of hill land and that landowners will need to appoint a geotechnical consultant before submitting any mitigation plans for hill lands,” he said.
He questioned the state government’s reasons for not tabling the PAC report in May, but hoped that they would submit it in the November sitting.
Lee also claimed that the rear of Bukit Relau, commonly known as Botak Hill, was still bare and exposed, but that this was not visible from the Penang Bridge’s vantage point.
He then called on the local authorities to monitor the landowner and ensure that they fully rehabilitate the whole hill.
Bukit Relau was illegally cleared in 2013 and the landowner was later fined in court by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
The landowner was also ordered to rehabilitate the bald patch of the hill.
In the PAC report, the nine-member committee chaired by A.Tanasekharan recommended that the local by-laws under the Road, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 be amended to allow for landowners to be immediately issued a compound or summons if found to have conducted illegal land clearing works.
It also recommended that the MBPP strengthen its monitoring system to prevent illegal structures in the hills or illegal hill clearing such as by using drones and CCTV.
The PAC committee on hill lands management was appointed in May 2016.