GEORGE TOWN: THE Penang government will look into excessive quarrying in the state following the New Straits Times’ front page report yesterday that many hills on the mainland were cleared, leading to property damage and concerns of environmental degradation.
State Secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said district officers (DOs) had been summoned to brief him on excavations in their districts.
“We are aware of the NST report. However, I do not have further details at the moment. I have requested the DOs to give me reports. Most likely by tomorrow (today), we can get the information.”
The NST Special Probes Team unearthed the massive excavation works carried out in many hills on mainland Penang.
In the expose yesterday, NST revealed that rampant quarrying was taking place in Juru, Bukit Tambun, Berapit, Kubang Semang and Simpang Ampat.
Some were more obvious than others, with a bald patch on a hill in Juru greeting Penang Bridge users as they enter the mainland.
Residents were worried that more green lungs would be destroyed for the sake of development, depriving the generations to come from a greener world.
The Auditor General’s report for Penang last year had red-flagged illegal quarrying and problems with royalty collection from excavation works. The report stated that the state government must be more diligent in collecting royalties for quarrying and step up enforcement against unlicensed operators.
It also recommended that the state stop the quarrying activities in Kampung Masjid in Batu Kawan because they posed a hazard to residents. An audit in November showed that the quarry was only 240m away from residents’ homes.
According to a reply from the Land and Mines Office on Jan 27, no permit was issued for quarrying on the site between 2013 and last year, and no royalties were collected from the operator.
The report also rapped the authorities for allowing four illegal quarries to operate while five others were operating while awaiting permits.