Illegally conducted earthworks can be seen here in Bukit Relau September 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Penang city council takes Relau landowner to court over illegal hill clearing works


GEORGE TOWN, Sept 14 — The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will be taking legal action against a landowner who cleared large swathes of hill land along the Bukit Relau range earlier this year even after a stop work order was issued.

According to MBPP Engineering Department Director A. Rajendran, the city council issued a stop work order on March 5, but the landowner ignored the notice and continued with the illegal earthworks spread out over 40 acres on the hill measuring between 200 metres and 350 metres.

“We went with the police to monitor the issue on April 15 and the police arrested eight workers for further investigations,” he said during a site visit this morning. 

Additional stop work orders were issued on July 14 and 15 before the landowner finally complied, but by then, the hill had been cleared for fruit farms, including durian, and a cement road measuring 1.5km long.
Penang Island Municipal Council Engineering Department Director PA Rajendran (centre) showing where the illegally conducted earthworks in Bukit Relau are being carried out on a map, September 14, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Rajendran said MBPP has completed its investigation papers on the illegal earthworks on Lot 274, 275,276 and 6621 of Bukit Relau, located on the hilly lands between Jalan Bukit Gambir and Jalan Paya Terubong.

“We will be taking court action against the owner,” he said.

This is not the first time the landowner has conducted illegal earthworks as back in 2015, the landowner was fined RM10,000 for illegal earthworks on a nearby piece of land. 

Rajendran said the landowner has since removed all machinery from the site, but added that MBPP is still keeping a daily watch on the area.

While the hill slope has undergone stabilisation work, Rajendran said MBPP has yet to determine the safety at the site pending a full mitigation plan from the landowner’s consultant engineer.

“They have submitted a planning permission for the earthworks but it is yet to be approved,” he said.

According to the MBPP online One Stop Centre, the landowner submitted the application for planning approval to conduct earthworks to plant durian trees on four plots of hill lands on September 1.