GEORGE TOWN, June 29 – In the wake of recent flooding incidents in Farlim and Menara Green View, Halaman Tembaga, PARTI RAKYAT MALAYSIA (PRM) raises concerns about the Department of Environment’s (DoE) failure to ensure compliance with all 59 conditions for the approval of the “Pakej 2 – Jalan Pintasan dari Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu ke Air Itam” bypass. The presence of floodwater resembling “teh tarik” outside the construction site indicates a lapse in the DoE’s oversight of rainwater handling procedures. PRM questions whether the DoE conducted on-site inspections to investigate the failure.

Through correspondence with the DoE since April, it has become evident that the DoE has delegated all monitoring responsibilities to the Bahagian Perancang Ekonomi Negeri (BPEN) and the developer, relying on them to submit reports every three months. PRM emphasizes that this approach, amounting to self-regulation by developers, does not absolve the DoE of its duty to conduct independent inspections. Surprise checks should be the norm, without prior notification to the developer. The DoE’s reliance solely on periodic reports is insufficient, as such reports are unlikely to reveal any breaches of the conditions.

PRM considers the DoE’s failure to audit the self-regulation process as a dereliction of duty. As the authority responsible for approving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the DoE has a responsibility to scrutinize the monitoring activities conducted by the BPEN and the developer to ensure compliance. Neglecting this duty may allow developers to cut corners and compromise environmental standards. PRM questions whether this lack of oversight reflects the standard operating procedure of the Ministry of Environment.

Incidents such as the recent “teh tarik” water flowing from the construction site onto the road in Farlim, Menara Green View, and the junction of Jalan Bukit Gambir/Jalan Lembah, along with the falling of a large boulder near Jay Series Apartment in Jln Gangsa and a landslide behind Kingfisher next to Jay Series, highlight non-compliance with the EIA conditions. Condition No. 2 of the EIA approval letter dated 07 Nov 2017 holds the BPEN accountable for any non-compliance. However, the letter fails to specify the penalties for such non-compliance.

The Environmental Officer (EO) appointed by the BPEN is entrusted with supervising erosion prevention and sediment management measures, maintaining an inspection diary, recording rainfall and rain gauge readings, conducting daily inspections of prevention measures, and ensuring compliance with Best Management Practices. Although these requirements appear impressive on paper, PRM questions their effectiveness in practice. PRM demands that the DoE provides answers regarding the incidents mentioned above.

Specifically, PRM seeks clarification on how a large boulder fell from the worksite, why soil from the construction site slid down the hillside, how a landslide breached the “protection barrier,” why “teh tarik” water flowed onto the roads after rainfall, whether the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) authorized the dumping of soil and stones down the hill slope outside the work area, and why the DoE initially refused to respond to noise level complaints until pressured by the Public Complaints Bureau.

PRM holds the DoE responsible for these breaches of the EIA conditions, as the authority empowered to enforce them. These breaches will not be reflected in the developers’ periodic reports to the DoE, which will falsely portray compliance. Consequently, PRM insists that the DoE issues an immediate stop work order until all breaches are rectified and the BPEN guarantees that no further “teh tarik” water will flow from the construction site onto public property or roads.

PRM urges the Minister of Environment to address the issue of self-regulation within the DoE, which places complete compliance with EIA approvals in the hands of project proponents and developers who may overlook incidents like those described. The public bears the consequences of non-compliance, and the DoE cannot rely on developers’ reports to claim full compliance with EIA conditions. The Ministry of Environment must abandon the self-regulation practice and hold its own officers accountable for any non-compliance by developers.

Surprise inspections should be conducted to keep developers accountable, and immediate stop work orders should be issued upon discovery of any breaches until rectification is complete.

Pocket News