Penang council issues stop work order to federal dept over mangrove land clearing

Offices from the Penang Island City Council and other government departments inspecting the reclaimed mangrove forest site in Batu Maung today.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council today ordered the federal land administrator, the landowner and a company to stop all work on a mangrove forest, which was cleared and reclaimed off the southeast coast of the island.

According to Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, the council ordered the ground of the area to be restored immediately to its pre-reclaimed state.

“There will be no compromise with those who flout the law,” he said when contacted.

The letter from the council’s geotechnical department, sighted by FMT, tells the landowner, the director-general of the federal Department of Land and Mines, or JKPTG, and the company renting the land, Buoyant Tech Sdn Bhd, to cease all work immediately.

The letter reads that the parties failed to get permission from the council to begin work and hence they have committed an offence under the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974.

Picture shows what is left of the cleared mangrove forest at Batu Maung. Some remaining mangrove trees can be seen in the background.

The council also ordered the parties to submit an earthworks plan, via a qualified engineer, to the council in 30 days.

Earlier, Batu Maung assemblyman Halim Hussain sounded the alarm when he reported to the state authorities that a mangrove forest area in his constituency had been cleared.

He estimated it to be about the size of a football field, adding that it had been rented out to a private company.

Phee had earlier said the land was owned by the Fisheries Department.

Clearing mangrove land is illegal under the National Forestry Act 1984 and the National Land Code 1965.

According to the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), Penang had around 3,500ha of mangrove swampland in the 1950s.

Today, it estimated that only around 400ha of mangrove land is left. Most of it has been cleared for agriculture, industries and housing since the early 1990s.