GEORGE TOWN, Jan 11 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng stressed that no residential development will be approved for Bukit Relau, during a dialogue session with a coalition of local non-governmental organisations today.
He said that while the hill, known as “botak hill” due to a bald patch on it after it was illegally cleared, was rezoned for residential use, this did not mean the state will approve developments on the hill.
“The site will not get residential development approval on top of the hill, maybe at the bottom,” he told the representatives from Penang Forum during the two-hour dialogue session.
He added that the landowner has not submitted any applications for planning approvals or any projects so far, and was currently in the process of rehabilitating the hill.
Bukit Relau became a controversial issue following outcry over the illegal hill clearing works on the 0.8ha plot of land on top of the hill.
GASB was fined RM30,000 by the sessions court for illegally clearing the hill, which was later increased to the maximum fine of RM50,000 upon appeal by the deputy public prosecutor who pressed for a heavier sentence.
Penang Forum, led by Datuk Dr Sharom Ahmat, had questioned the state government on its policies on hill slope development, pushing for the state to ensure that no developments are approved on hill slopes above 76m.
Lim responded by pointing out that his administration has never approved any development projects on hill slopes above the height.
Sharom had also pushed for answers on the progress of restoring Bukit Relau to its original conditions while pointing out that it was still bald.
They were unhappy with the slow progress in restoring the hill and hoped something could be done to speed it up.
State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the rehabilitation stage of the hill is now at over 60 per cent.