THE Penang government has set up a steering committee to launch ‘Ops Lumpur’ to monitor development activities that could contribute to floods and river pollution in the state.
State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow is the chairman, while his deputies are state exco members Phee Boon Poh and Lim Hock Seng.
The state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) is the secretariat, while committee members comprise those from the local governments, state Economic Planning Unit, state Public Works Department, Department of Environment and district engineers and officers.
Speaking at the launch of the Ops Lumpur enforcement squad yesterday, state DID deputy director S. Ratna Rajah said the committee would make monthly surprise checks at construction sites starting next month.
“Our aim is to ensure that all development comply with the erosion and sediment control plan (ESCP), which is reviewed and approved by the DID.
“The setup of the Ops Lumpur Steering Committee is meant to reduce the risk of flash floods, water pollution and siltation problem,” he said during a briefing at the state DID office in Komtar yesterday.
Ratna Rajah said one of the hotspots was in Paya Terubong, where mudflows and landslips were constantly reported during heavy rain.
He said action could be taken against unregulated project development operators under Section 34 (a) of the Environmental Quality Act, which carries a maximum RM100,000 fine, a jail term not more than five years, or both.
“The authorities can act against developers who have not been given the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) approval, or are caught violating the conditions,” he said.
Ratna Rajah said action could also be taken against the perpetrators under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 (Act 133) by the local councils.
“Under Section 71 of the Act, those who failed to ensure the maintenance on the land, could be slapped with a maximum RM500,000 fine, or five years jail, or both,” he said.
Chow said the steering committee would act as adviser to two Implementation Committees spearheaded by Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail and Seberang Prai Municipal Council president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif.
“We want to tackle problems like soil erosion and siltation at construction sites, which cause floods and river pollution.
“Our focus is to monitor those project developments with approved plans.
“The landowners, developers, engineers, consultants and contractors should play a role in ensuring they comply with ESCP.
“We need their cooperation so that there won’t be mudflows or river siltation whenever there are heavy rains.
“Sometimes, everything looks good on paper. We need to be at the sites to look for ourselves whether there is any violation of rules and regulations.
“We will visit any ongoing development projects,” he said.
Also present was state DID director Sabri Abdul Mulok.