BUKIT MERTAJAM: Those responsible for the deforestation on top of a hill near the Mengkuang Dam will be dealt with severely, according to the Penang government.
State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the Forestry Department conducted a spot check on the site on April 12 and found logs being illegally removed from the hill.
“They also found trees on the private land were chopped down as the landowner wanted to plant durian.“He also cleared some of the nearby land to turn it into an access road to his property.
“The landowner claimed that he was not aware of the need to get permission from the local authority before clearing the land,” Phee said.
“We are taking this case seriously and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) is in the process of taking the landowner to court.
“Previously, there were two cases of illegal tree-cutting in Taman Sentosa and Taman Bukit Indah and the landowners were charged in court,” he said.
MPSP president Datuk Rozali Mohamud said the landowner concerned was slapped with a notice under Section 70A of the Road Drainage and Building Act 1974 (Act 133) on April 17 for clearing the land without permission.
Kampung Sungai Lembu Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Tan Sing Lee described the deforestation issue as “nothing new”, saying many farmers, especially those with durian orchards, lodged reports after trees on their land were chopped down.
“Not all farmers check their farms regularly. Poachers move in to chop down the trees. They are gone before anyone took note. “Many reports have been lodged but it is not easy to nab the loggers as they operate swiftly,” he said.
Although the Mengkuang Dam expansion project has been completed, an 11km stretch of the road surrounding the dam is still closed to the public to allow remedial work at the 23 landslide sites.
The project is expected to be completed next year and the biggest of three dams in the state is expected to operate at full capacity by then.
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