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The Penang government has not ruled out the possibility of Bukit Relau, more commonly known as “Botak Hill”, being developed in the future.
Responding to critics, local government, traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said anyone can submit development plans for the hill to the Penang Island City Council.
However, he said, it was up to the council to approve or reject such plans.
“Those who are interested in developing the area are welcome to submit their plans as the council has its development guidelines,” said Chow during an inspection on mitigation works on the hill yesterday.
“The council will decide on any proposals based on such guidelines.”
However, he said no one has submitted any Bukit Relau development plans to the council so far.
Also present during the inspection were city council Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail, mitigation works project manager Khoo Koon Tai and non-governmental organisation (NGO) Penang Forum member Rebecca Duckett.
The mitigation works for Bukit Relau, which was developed illegally in 2013, is scheduled to be completed this June. So far, 60 per cent of the works have been completed.
During the site visit, there was some disagreement between Khoo and Duckett over the correct mitigation works to be carried out on the hill. Khoo said the mitigation works included planting grass and conducting hydro seeding for effective growth of vegetation and trees on the upper part of the hill.
Duckett, on the other hand, said mitigation works must include restoration of the hill as promised by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during a forum two weeks ago.
Khoo replied that mitigation works must be completed before any restoration works could be carried out.
“Now, we are focused on completing the mitigation works first before proceeding with other earthworks,” said Khoo.
He also said the land owner, General Accomplishment Sdn Bhd, would have to fork out RM50 million for the mitigation and restoration works.
Locals started calling Bukit Relau “Botak Hill” after a large bald patch appeared atop the hill in May 2013.
Many NGOs and local assemblymen, such as R.S.N. Rayer, Teh Yee Cheu, Dr T. Jayabalan and the late DAP leader Karpal Singh, spoke out against the illegal land clearing.
General Accomplishment was then hauled to court in 2014 and the company was fined RM50,000 under Section 70A(1) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 for carrying out earthworks on Bukit Relau without obtaining necessary approval from the council.
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