Work on Botak Hill to go on

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  • Saturday, 30 Jan 2016

A bald patch on Botak HIll as seen during a visit by officials and NGOs on Wednesday.

THE mitigation work on the infamous Bukit Relau aka Botak Hill must continue as any halt will only result in further erosion.

Penang Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said following calls by NGOs and environmentalists to stop the work was not an option.

“It doesn’t make sense to stop the mitigation work midway through as we have seen good results.

“To date, we have reached 60% completion,” he told newsmen at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

Chow was responding to calls by members of Penang Forum to stop mitigation work as it was further destroying the hill and to look at ways to restore the hill by planting trees and grass as well as hydroseeding.

“How can you do restoration work on a hill without any foundation and with major soil erosion?” he asked.

The present work, said Chow, was to stabilise the hill slopes and pathways, and building a drainage system to control the flow of water during the rainy season.

“We have people calling for these drains to be removed but this will lead to further soil erosion or landslides during a downpour,” he said.

Chow led council officials and NGOs up to Bukit Relau on Wednesday.

When questioned about the intention of the developer General Accomplishment Sdn Bhd in carrying out illegal clearing in 2013, Chow said the question should be posed to the developer and not the state.

“We did not let them off the hook even after they paid a RM30,000 fine. They still have to do the mitigation work,” he added.

A spokesman for the developer on Wednesday said that RM20mil had been spent on mitigation and the figure could reach RM50mil by the time the work is completed in June.

The Botak Hill controversy erupted in 2013 when GeneralAccomplishment stripped the top of the hill bare without written approval from the council.

The state had rezoned the hill for housing in 2012 but didn’t approve any building plans.

In July 2013, the Sessions Court found the company, which owns the parcel of land, guilty of clearing the 22.89ha site without obtaining approval from the then Penang Municipal Council.

The court fined the company RM30,000 for failing to submit the earthworks plan.

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