GEORGE TOWN, April 25 — Penang farmers located in the hilly areas on the island have till June to register their farms with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), state exco Zairil Khir Johari said today.

The infrastructure and transport committee chairman said all farms and orchards located in hilly areas such as Penang Hill and Balik Pulau must register with the city council.

“They were given six months to register from January to June and they have to submit their agriculture plans on hilly lands too,” he said in a press conference this afternoon. 

He said this is part of the state government’s efforts to legalise these farms, some of which have been around for a few generations.

“We want them to register with the city council so that they can comply with our safety guidelines for agricultural activities in hilly areas,” he said.

He added that this is to ensure farming activities in hilly areas are controlled and do not cause damage to the hill slopes.

“There was no proper mechanism to register or legalise these farms before this so we don’t know how many are there now,” he said when asked how many farmers will be involved in this exercise.

He said the lack of a mechanism to control these farms meant that any land clearing or development on these lands for agriculture was done haphazardly.

“If they don’t register, after this, action can be taken against them,” he stressed.

Zairil said the state is now coming up with the second edition of the Penang Safety Guideline for Hill Site Development.

“I have instructed the city council to monitor all hill slopes from time to time and take immediate action against any landowners who conduct works on these lands without the necessary approvals,” he said.

He said the state will ensure that all proposed developments are not allowed on hill slopes above 76m from the sea level and the footprint of buildings must be on category one or two slopes as stated in the Penang Structure Plan 2030.

He said the city council has also instructed all owners of buildings located along hill slopes to conduct regular inspection and maintenance works.

“The state government has instructed the city council to regularly monitor the 34 high-risk hill slopes on the island,” he said.