Developers rule in Penang, laments environmental activist

 |Sep 15, 2017
Pic credit Facebook Azizi Safar.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has been asked to be more responsible and pro-active with regards to carrying out development projects in the state to avoid unnecessary flash floods.

Two environmental activists Malaysia Outlook spoke to agreed that for the most part, all the state government has done every time there are flash floods, is to put the blame on the Federal Government, instead of tackling the issue which they say is partially due to the fast-paced development in the state.

Malaysia Nature Society Penang branch advisor D. Kanda Kumar said instead of bringing up the issue of the delayed RM350 million from the Federal Government for flood mitigation, the state government should take pro-active measures to ensure all steps are taken to contain flash floods, in line with the rapid development in the state which the current state government has approved.

Some are worried that the pace of development in Penang and efforts to contain its backlash
are not complimenting one another.

“They should calculate the amount of rainfall in newly developed areas and how to contain the water each time it rains so it does not lead to flash floods.

“Either holding tanks or some kind of solution. All this must be studied before approving any sort of development.

“They know how to develop but they don’t know how to control what comes with it.

“By allowing top soil to be cleared off and covering hectares of land with concrete and asphalt, the rainwater has nowhere to go, resulting in frequent flash floods,” he said when contacted.

He said more rain is expected in Malaysia due to climate change, and there should be more areas that can trap rainwater instead of destroying the areas such as hills and green lung.

Kanda claimed that many preventive measures have been overlooked prior to development especially on hilly areas.

“The state government should not allow property construction without sufficient rainwater dispersal planning. But then in Penang, developers rule,” he added.

Citizens Awareness Chant Group adviser Yan Lee called for greater attention to hill cutting and clearing and for the Penang state government to have their own team to monitor hillslopes whenever it rains in places it has approved for development.

“I’ve already emailed them this proposal but nothing came out of it.

“They keep repeating the same old story about them being denied the flood mitigation allocation from the federal government. Until when are they going to use the same old story?

“I hope Penang people can look at this and take action as something is seriously not right somewhere,” Lee told Malaysia Outlook.

He called on Penangites to ‘wake up’ as it is something that has been happening too frequently and Penangites are bearing the brunt of it.

Continuous heavy rain since last night saw many areas in Penang being submerged in flood waters.

Air Itam and Paya Terubong which are considered as being on higher grounds, were not spared the flood misery as the water level reached the roofs of some homes there.

The state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and the Penang Fire and Rescue Department have both issued a code red warning on water levels of rivers reaching the danger zone.

Cars and houses were seen submerged in flood water with traffic at a standstill in several major roads on the island and mainland roads.

The state Fire and Rescue Department has also confirmed incidents of landslips in Paya Terubong.

Several roads have also been closed due to uprooted trees.

The Fire and Rescue Department along with other agencies such as the police and Civil Defence Department (JPAM) are on standby with boats in case of any untoward incidents. – MO