Talk has it that housing developers are eyeing 60-80 acres of at the Agriculture Station land in Relau, the last major green lung in this area.
Well, such land swap talk for the Relau land is nothing new.
Politicians and developers have eyed the land in the past. See, for instance, reported speculation in 2006 about the fate of the land. Then, it was proposed that the agricultural activity would be transferred to the mainland under a land swap.
But that didn’t get past the state ExCo of the time, perhaps given the outcry that would have ensued.
This time, speculation I have heard is that it could be swapped with land in Balik Pulau? If there is any truth to this, what will be the fate of farmers renting space on this land? Some of their contracts are apparently ending in September.
The Relau Agrotourism Centre comes under the Penang State Agriculture Department.
This land should be upgraded for agricultural research and not sold to developers. It should be part of a Penang network of parks and gardens.
From what I hear, the Agriculture Research Station was initiated by former Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu, who wanted an orchid tissue land to be built. But nothing came of it as the agricultural section in PDC was closed down. Chong Eu also tried to introduce new crops like the Jojoba desert plant, known for its oil. That project also failed to take off. But the idea for an agricultural research station was a worthy one.
After Pakatan took over Penang, a new proposal for an agro-ecological park for education and recreation was raised, with USM involvement. After the first phase, a second phase was proposed, but apparently no budget was given for the second phase. (No surprise there, perhaps?)
Meanwhile, developers are still eyeing the land for housing and commercial development with talk of a land swap persisting. The state authorities must come out and state categorically that it won’t approve any property development on this land.
So keep a sharp eye on this, and save the Relau Agricultural Station land from developers.
P.S. What is that land clearing above the 250-feet contour threshold in the top right of the image all about? Has this received State Planning Committee approval?