Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tanjung Bungah landslide: Five REAL facts you should know

Some purported “facts” are being circulated about the Tanjung Bungah project.
Here’s an alternative look at five critical issues:

1. Was it really flat land before work started? We were told that “the project involved slopes with a gradient of about 20 degrees”. So how can this be entirely “flat land”? Show us the original ground profile in the planning and building plan – before any work started. Apart from the gradient, slope stability also depends on the subterranean geology, the height of the water table, what’s happening further up the hill, any streams in the area, and any erosion or excavation or other work at the base. In particular, the “factor of safety” should be considered, ie whether the resisting forces are sufficient to counter the driving forces of the slopes.

2. The Pelan Dasar dan Perancangan Pemajuan MPPP 1996 is just a guideline. What carries legal weight is the Penang Structure Plan, which was gazetted in 2007.   

The maximum residential density permissible for Tanjung Bungah is 15 units per acre as stipulated in the text.

Even if it is argued that Tanjung Bungah is in the primary corridor (someone during the previous administration had altered the graphic in the Structure Plan to indicate it is a primary corridor), it would be a maximum of 30 units per acre.
This project is for 980 homes in two 50-storey towers over several acres. The state government should tell us the density for this – using only the development site footprint excluding the hill slopes.

Too many high-density projects are being allowed in the name of “affordable housing” when they are not even affordable to the low-income group. [How affordable are they really, when by most definitions, genuinely affordable housing should not exceed RM250,000.] The reality is the text of the Structure Plan only allows for a maximum of 15 homes per acre in Tanjung Bungah.

3. The project may have been approved by “19 technical departments” but many of them (eg landscaping, PBA, Tenaga, Communications and Multimedia Commission, IWK, Bomba and waste management) have no real bearing on the risk of building so near a hill slope.

4. The DOE objection should carry the most weight and should override all the other departments. After all, for several large projects, the state is happy to tell us that the project would only go ahead if there is DoE approval eg the controversial land reclamation in Tanjung Tokong. Here we have the DoE itself objecting to these massive 50-storey towers near a hill slope (unlike other low-rise projects nearby). So why was the project allowed to go ahead?

5. The fact that an active quarry above the site was blasting nearby should have been taken seriously as it would contribute to slope instability. The footprint of the entire quarry should have been considered and not the specific blast point during any one time. The DoE’s Guidelines for Siting and Zoning of Industrial and Residential Areas 2008 (Appendix B) page 57 specify a minimum buffer of 500 metres for quarrying and on-site crushing activity.

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