Unused land in Penang in demand — for use as dumpsites

Penang state exco Abdul Halim Hussain says enforcement agencies must avoid ‘tontos’ when carrying out operations to catch those dumping waste illegally. (Facebok pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Unused land, whether owned by the government or in private hands, is in demand in Penang to be turned into dumping grounds for construction and industrial waste, a state executive councillor said.

Most of these plots of land belong to the government, said Abdul Halim Hussain, who heads the state domestic and international trade, consumer affairs and entrepreneur development committee.

The situation is worst in Batu Maung, where four lots of government-owned land and one owned by a private individual have been turned into dumpsites.

Halim confirmed that one of these dumpsites was previously part of a mangrove forest, as revealed by several NGOs last month.

Two of the dumpsites are at Diamond Valley near Permatang Damar Laut. The others are at Kampung Naran and behind the Batu Maung police station.

Halim said these illegal activities started when the island’s main dumpsite, the Jelutong landfill, stopped receiving waste. This led irresponsible parties to look for any unused land on the island.

All waste is now being sent to the Pulau Burung landfill, near Nibong Tebal, on the mainland.

Halim said the authorities must work together to prevent illegal dumping from getting out of hand.

Enforcement must be done swiftly and quietly so as not to tip off “tontos” who may be keeping a sharp lookout for enforcement officers, he said.

“We have to catch them in the act. We cannot be blindly following any lorries that pass us.

“Enforcement agencies should also play their cards close to the chest so as not to tip these people off,” Halim told reporters at Komtar today.

He said all government agencies must also ensure that land under their watch is fenced up.

Last month, several NGOs, including Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Pertubahan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka), revealed that 4ha of a 20ha mangrove forest under the Fisheries Department in Batu Maung had been cleared illegally.

The land, which is federal government land, had been let out to a company to build a shipyard.