GEORGE TOWN (June 4, 2012): Penang needs to monitor development projects and take action to curb environmental pollution and loss of greenery.
“The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) find that the beauty of Penang’s natural environment is slowly losing its shine due to the rapid pace of development,” said SM Mohamed Idris, president of both the NGOs, today.
The state Department of Environment’s annual report for 2011 found that 10 out of 24 rivers in the seven river basins in Penang are classified as polluted, he said in a statement in conjunction with World Environment Day, which falls tomorrow.
“The main source of pollution identified is pollutants in the rivers’ outflow from the discharge of domestic sewage in residential areas and business premises,” Idris said.
He stressed that coastal reclamation and aquaculture activities in the state have also contributed to the destruction of the natural coastal ecosystem.
“Approximately 70% of mangrove forests here have been destroyed by development projects. Some beaches that were once sandy are now mudflats such as in Gurney Drive,” he said.
He added that these have led to about 40 species of aquatic life becoming endangered or extinct.
“We urge the state to gazette all forests and mangroves as permanent reserved forests and not allow any development project on hills and agricultural land,” he said.
Hill slope developments have also resulted in mud floods happening in some villages and housing estates located in Balik Pulau and Bayan Lepas.
Idris noted that some villages and housing estates have been affected by soil erosion and sedimentation from development projects on nearby hillslopes, such as in Balik Pulau and Bayan Lepas.
“Many residents staying near hills such as in Sungai Ara and Tanjung Bungah have appealed to the state government and the local council to cancel the proposed projects on hill slopes”
“The state government and local authorities should enforce the existing regulations,” he added.