‘8 TIMES MORE PROJECTS AP­PROVED’

Fewer hill­s­lope projects were ap­proved un­der BN govt, says Subra

New Straits Times - - News - AU­DREY DERMAWAN AND ARFA YUNUS BUT­TER­WORTH news@nst.com.my

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

PIC BY SHAHNAZ FAZLIE

Health Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­ma­nian pre­sent­ing aid to flood vic­tims from the Ba­gan Dalam and Prai state con­stituen­cies in But­ter­worth yes­ter­day.

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