GEORGE TOWN: BRUSHING off criticism that overdevelopment is the main cause of the floods in Penang yet again, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said contrary to popular belief, development has actually mitigated the floods.

He said when the council received an application for development, it would study the existing drainage and irrigation systems in the area before making the necessary changes to accommodate new development.

The changes included building new drainage pipes or upgrading existing ones.

“This project and infrastructure development go hand in hand,”” he said at Town Hall here yesterday.

On Friday, many thoroughfares on the island — including Jalan Scotland, Jalan Transfer, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Gurdwara, Jalan Anson and Jalan Mount Erskine — were flooded following a downpour.

The floods, which reached waist high in certain areas, also caused massive traffic congestion ahead of the long Hari Raya Aidiladha weekend.

In an immediate reaction, Chow had said the floods were caused by unprecedented rainfall as a result of climate change

He also dismissed claims that the floods were caused by overdevelopment on the island.

It was reported that Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow refuted Chow’’s reasoning and cited the numerous development projects on the island as the main contributing factor.

He said the areas affected by flash floods had expanded over the last few years, with places that had never experienced floods being affected this time around.

Teng said the floods were a manifestation of uncontrolled development, overdevelopment and excessive hill cutting.

He claimed the infrastructure was not developed in tandem with the projects, contributing to the worsening situation.

Teng said the upgrading of infrastructure had no proper planning, causing traffic congestion.

Chow, however, denied Teng’s claims, saying it was not true that development had led to the flash floods.

He said the state government was working on completing the state drainage and irrigation masterplan to better tackle the flood issue.

““We are handling the studies and surveys on a district-by-district basis.

““The Northwest district masterplan was completed last year.

“The Central Seberang Perai district masterplan is about 50 per cent complete, the South Seberang Perai masterplan’’s funding was just approved, while the North Seberang Perai and NorthWest district masterplans are in the pipeline.”

Chow said the masterplan would also come in handy when approving projects, as the council could refer to the masterplan of specific districts to see what improvements were needed.