Something putrid in the air

ALTHOUGH Penang island has all the features that people look for as their dream place to settle down, the Simpat Ampat area in south Seberang Prai on the mainland is very different.

Since being known as a boom town, the Simpang Ampat area, particularly Bandar Tasek Mutiara, has turned into a ‘slum’ due to the presence of pig and poultry farms.

These farms have neglected to look at their environmental and social impact.

Some have failed to properly ensure compliance with standard operating procedures (SOP) under the Pig Farming Enactment 2016 and Poultry Farming (State of Penang) Enactment 2020.

Despite being required to use modern closed-farming systems, most of the farms do not fully comply.

A few of these farms lie close to the boundaries of residential areas and schools, which is against the said SOP.

The leakage of ammonia and hydrogen nitrate gases emitted from the breakdown and volatilisation of urea produces an irritating odour that may cause respiratory diseases and other ailments, especially for women and children.

These gases rise into the air between 8pm to 10pm mostly. The air will be very pungent all night long, disturbing residents who are unable to sleep soundly.

Despite numerous complaints to authorities, nothing seems to have been done, according to Bandar Tasek Mutiara’s nuisance action committee coordinator Saravanan Balakrishnan.

Letters have been sent to assemblymen, exco members and many other agencies but there have been just empty promises.

No direct action was taken. Instead, we are advised to adapt to the polluted environment as a new norm.

Almost 6,500 residents of the township are affected by these farms on daily basis.

Swarms of flies and the foul smell have pushed many horrified residents to seek accommodation elsewhere and restaurant owners to relocate their businesses.

City council officials and Department of Veterinary Services have been half-hearted in inspecting the farms.

These inspections seemed to be carried out only at noon or during the absence of strong odours, and residents are then notified that no nuisance was found.

With no other options, residents are forced to live with the bad effects on their health and pockets.

Our nuisance action committee and residents’ association can only hope for a miracle and that somebody will step forward and put a full stop to the issue with effective solutions.

We fervently hope the government will get the farms to relocate far from residential areas at the soonest possible time to protect the well-being of the people and environment.

The delay in taking action is likely to cause pollution levels to multiply to a large extent and cause the spread of diseases.

Shatheish Maniam

South Seberang Prai

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