‘8 TIMES MORE PROJECTS APPROVED’
Fewer hillslope projects were approved under BN govt, says Subra
THE number of hillslope development projects approved by the DAPled Penang government is at least eight times higher than the previous administration’s.
MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, who revealed this yesterday, said the matter was discussed in the cabinet.
“From what we were told, since DAP came into power in March 2008, they have approved seven to eight times more hillslope development projects in the state compared with the previous Barisan Nasional-led administration.
“This has brought about greater risk to the environment, and its effects are what we are seeing now,” he said, referring to the Nov 4 floods that hit the state.
A 17-hour storm two Saturdays ago led to a mega flood, landslides and uprooted trees, paralysing the state. Thousand were displaced, while seven deaths were reported.
Dr Subramaniam, who is also health minister, was here to present aid to 400 families from the Bagan Dalam and Prai state constituencies who were affected by the incident.
He said the state government should take heed of the incident and control developments in the state.
“While the major floods were unexpected, the state government should take it as a lesson to identify the root cause of the incident.
“There is need for a proper drainage system, especially near the hillslopes,” he said, adding that many studies had been conducted to ensure that development was not carried out at the expense of the environment.
On his visit to the state yesterday, Dr Subramaniam said that it was MIC’s continuous initiative to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the floods.
He also said there had been no disruption to medical services in the state following the disasters, and dismissed suggestions by the state government to conduct a simulation exercise to face major floods in the future.
“The medical team’s preparations are at their best during disasters, as we have a set of standard operating procedures.
“Besides attending to patients in hospitals and clinics, they are also sent to the ground to control the spread of water-borne diseases.
“And, based on our record, there has been no increase in water-borne diseases, such as typhoid, in Penang during the floods,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam, however, advised flood victims to only use boiled water for cooking and drinking to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.
In Parliament, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said Penang had been under the strain of overdevelopment and extensive sea reclamations since DAP took over in 2008.
He said the state had also failed to upgrade the drainage capacity which was unable to handle a large volume of water.
“The drainage system should be upgraded accordingly, and water catchment areas should be managed properly so that surface runoff can be kept under control,” he said in reply to a query from Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (BN-Tasek Gelugor) during the question-and-answer session.
Shahidan said the recent floods in Penang carried an enormous amount of silt and this was evidence of indiscriminate cutting of hillslopes. Additional reporting Beatrice Nita Jay and Fernando Fong
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramanian presenting aid to flood victims from the Bagan Dalam and Prai state constituencies in Butterworth yesterday.