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Stop work order issued for soil erosion danger

BUKIT MERTAJAM (May 13): A development near Kampung Besar Berapit here has been ordered to stop work by the authorities for neglecting soil erosion mitigation on its hillside project.

Stied about 600m from the Mengkuang Dam at the entrance beside Jalan Berapit, the  construction notice board states the development as a three-storey birdhouse for swallows.

Since its approval in December 2016 though, there has been no sign of any birdhouse on the 0.57ha site, reported The Star today.

Villagers nearby in Kampung Sungai Tok Elong, Kampung Sungai Semambu and Kampung Tanah Liat downstream are getting worried, especially with the ongoing rainy season.

“One month ago, the hill was still green and covered in trees. Today, it is all bare and orange. There seems to be no protection of the hill that is extremely close to the Mengkuang Dam.

“The plan was approved three years ago, but now the hill is almost gone and where is the birdhouse?” a villager in his 30s, who only gave his name as Sani, lamented on Thursday.

“The villagers have little room to escape if something bad happens. And we can see that rocks have clogged up many parts of the drains.

“We are afraid that if a landslide occurs on the hill, the mud will most likely end up in our villages,” added Sani.

Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) president Datuk Rozali Mo­­ha­­mud said the stop-work order was issued on Wed­­nesday.

“The plan for the earthwork at this site was approved on Dec 6, 2016, and does not have an expiry date. The developer was allowed to initiate work once it submitted Form B, which MPSP received from this developer on Dec 13, 2016.

“However, the stop-work order was issued on Wednesday after the developer failed to comply with the requirements of the approved earth­­work, such as having proper mud erosion mitigation and protection of the exposed hill.

“The developer is required to take the mitigation steps to ensure soil erosion does not end up in the drain and road nearby,” he said.

In addition to the halting, the notice also mandates the developer, within seven days, to engage an engineering consultant to submit a soil erosion mitigation and protection proposal as well as maintenance work on the land. No work on the site is allowed until approval from the council.

Failure to comply will lead to prosecution in court and if convicted, the developer could be fined under the MPSP Earthworks By-Law 1992.

The Berapit assemblywoman Heng Lee Lee, who viewed the site on Thurs­day, said: “I hope the developer will put necessary mitigation requirements in place for the safety of everyone.”

Regarding a quarry adjacent to the site, Heng said checks with the council showed the documentations for the operations were obtained in 2002, but explosives has been prohibited there since 2013 because the excavation height had exceeded the height allowed in the earthwork plan.

In another case, on April 17, the landowner of a 5.6ha plot sited about 2.5km away from the Mengkuang Dam received a notice by MPSP for carrying out earthworks on the hill land without approval.

Trees on the slope were chopped down and the logs illegally removed to make way for what was believed to be a durian orchard.

The violation was discoved when state Forestry Department officers were conducting a spot check on the site on April 12, said State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

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