Of the dozens of cases of hill clearing highlighted by Penang Hills Watch, the site of the disaster this morning was the first in a series of dozens of cases brought to the attention of local authorities earlier this year.
The disaster site today was case number 1 out of an initial list of 29 cases for which Penang Hill Watch, an initiative of Penang Forum, sought clarification from the state government. [I had blogged about it here.]
You can see the Penang Hills Watch report of the 29 cases here, which was submitted to the state government on 2 January 2017.
And the state government’s response on 26 January 2017 was “Kerja tanah dalam pemantauan” (the earthwork is being monitored). (The earthwork had been approved on 30 June 2015.)
And this is an artist’s impression of the Granito project by BSG at the site.
As in other construction site disasters, it is usually the poor construction workers – usually nameless, faceless migrant workers – who bear the brunt.
How many other migrant workers have perished at construction sites, with hardly any news about them or how their families were compensated (can any compensation ever make up for the loss)? Are these ever reported?
Not far away from here, near the Surin condo, another case (number 4) was highlighted by Penang Hills Watch. This morning, a concerned resident informed me of a ‘waterfall’ at the site.
“People walk here morning and evening,” said the resident. “(The site is) disguised and hidden by bushes. There is a big waterfall here. We can hear gushing water.”
You can see the extract from Penang Hill Watch’s report on the case here:
How were these projects approved in the first place? Who approved them? Can we have some names? Will anyone take responsibility?
A thoroughly independent probe is needed. It is time to put a stop to all property development on the ecologically sensitive hill-slopes of Penang.