MalaysiaKini –  Sep 18, 09

The Selangor government has taken the first step towards tackling the landslide problem that has plagued the country’s hills for years by gathering concerned parties today for the first in a series of dialogues on how best to prevent them.

With the first in a series of dialogue on the proposed guidelines in the planning and implementation of hillslope developments, the Selangor state government hopes to study the effectiveness of the draft guideline in ensuring the safety of resident living in hill slope areas.

Around 300 participants including parliamentarians, state assemblymen, councillors, residents association and non-governmental organizations attended the dialogue hosted by the state’s town and country planning department.

The next round will be held after Hari Raya at areas where hillslope developments are rampant like Subang Jaya, Ampang Jaya, Kajang and Selayang.

In his keynote address, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said the draft is mainly focused on the safety of residents and protecting the environment.

To date there has been no proper guideline to monitor hillslope development, resulting in the loss of lives and property. So with an effective guideline the hope is that such tragedies can be avoided in the future, said Khalid.

Residents’ concern over enforcement

The draft among others proposed stricter criteria in determining buffer zones between hillslope and properties and the formation of a slope maintenance unit to monitor the development from the technical, management and financial aspects, according to the press statement released by the Selangor State Secretariat.

Several participants had expressed reservations over the enforcement and implementation aspects of the proposed guidelines as they involved collective effort on the part of local authorities, the developer and the residents themselves, it said.

“They cautioned the government not to lift its ban on Class 3 and 4 hill slope development until they are assured of effective implementation. Some also urged the state government should make the developers accountable in the event of any mishap,” the statement added.

Last month, Khalid had announced that the state government had drawn up new guidelines for hillslope development for implementation by the year-end in response to intense public pressure.

In a related development, the National Council for Local Government yesterday approved two guidelines on the implementation of government development projects and the development of highland areas during its 62nd Council meeting in Putrajaya.

The “Guideline for Hillside and Highland Areas Development Planning” is to “ensure safety of lives and property and the protection of the environment according to legal requirements”.

Chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and attended by mentri besars, chief ministers and several Cabinet ministers, the council decided to make it compulsory for all new development projects at hillside areas to adhere to the new guidelines.

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