Quarry Ops Destroying Bukit Juru S Charms Says Assemblyman


Quarry blasting at Bukit Juru is destroying the natural heritage and disrupting villagers’ lives, say residents. (Facebook pic)PETALING JAYA: Quarry operations in Bukit Juru, Penang, will destroy the area’s charms, a state assemblyman said today, concurring with complaints by residents about disruption to their lives
Gooi Hsiao Leung, the assemblyman for Bukit Tengah, said he would bring their concerns to the state government, Bernama reported
It is understood that the licence for the quarry operations is due to expire by the end of this year, according to Bernama
Residents of nearby villages said they wished to preserve Bukit Juru as a natural heritage for all Penangites
Gooi said that between 1980 and 1985, the state government at the time had permitted the lease of land in Bukit Juru for quarry operations until 2042
Gooi Hsiao Leung“It is worth mentioning that during that time, the technical units from the government agencies disagreed with the (issuance of the) permit,” Gooi said, according to Bernama
The quarry operates on three plots of land within an area of 12.788 hectares
Residents of Sungai Sembilang, near Bukit Mertajam, said the quarry blasting has disrupted the lives of some 2,000 people in five villages
One villager, Mohd Ariff Md Basir, 46, said the quarrying activities were gradually destroying the natural beauty of Bukit Juru and putting nearby residents in constant danger
He alleged that large rocks and shrapnel from the blast mining have damaged residents’ houses
“We have been given payments by the quarry operator as compensation for the damage. But we do not want the money; we want safety,” he said
He claimed that roads in the area have been damaged by the estimated 100 to 150 lorries with heavy loads passing through the area daily
Another resident, Mohammed Anuar Ab Hamid, 67, said he had voiced the concerns of residents before but to no avail as the quarrying has been going on since the 1980s
“We want to defend and protect Bukit Juru as a natural heritage, not only for us and our future generations but also for the whole of Penang,” he said
He hoped that the quarry operations could be stopped and the operator’s licence would not be renewed to end the residents’ suffering and prevent further damage to Bukit Juru
Not a single benefit to locals, says assemblymanGooi said almost the whole of Bukit Juru (covering 391 acres) was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1896. At the time of independence, the quarry area was only about 2 acres in size
But between 1980 and 1985, 31.6 acres of the hill was removed from the forest reserve and 3 different parties granted leases to carry out quarrying
“Since then, quarry operations have been carried out on a large scale with adverse effects on the residents of this area as well as the natural environment. Locals are forced to live with air pollution, dust and explosions. Agriculture cannot be cultivated
“The village’s natural defence against strong winds from the sea, rain and the threat of flooding is increasingly affected. The entire ecosystem of forestry, trees and wildlife is also declining
“There is not a single benefit brought to the residents here from the quarry operation so far,” he said
Gooi said Bukit Juru is iconic being one of the only hills that still exists in Bukit Tengah. “It should be defended and protected as a natural heritage for the whole of Penang.” - FMT

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