A LAWMAKER is urging the Penang government to halt the renewal of a granite quarry licence near Bukit Juru on mainland Penang as the quarry poses a health threat to residents there.
Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao Leung said the quarry operator’s three-year licence expires at the end of this year.
“The residents voiced their disapproval about the quarry operations long ago.
“They feel helpless and that nothing could be done about it. They are appealing for help once again, ” he said.
Gooi said although quarrying at the site had started long before Independence, its size had grown tremendously.
“Almost the entire Bukit Juru, which covers 158ha, was gazetted as a forest reserve during British rule in 1896.
“During Independence, the quarry was less than 1ha.
“Between 1980 and 1985, the state de-gazetted 12.5ha of hill land facing the sea from the forest reserve and approved three plots of land in form of leases to different operators for quarry operations.
“Since then, quarrying operations have been conducted on an enormous scale, leading to negative impact to residents nearby and its surroundings, ” added Gooi.
He said residents suffer from dust pollution, tremors from the rock blasting and heavy vehicles passing through the village.
“The iconic Bukit Juru is the only hill left in Bukit Tengah and is still a forest reserve near the coast and backed by a river flowing beside it.
“It needs to be protected as a natural heritage for villagers and generations to come, as proven by the increasing number of jungle trekkers exploring the hill.”
On Sept 5, Gooi held a dialogue with about 50 villagers to hear their grouses over the issue.