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KUCHING, Oct 26: Two state Democratic Action Party (DAP) Members of Parliament (MPs) claim that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar is practising double standards when it comes to the safety guideline on the distance of housing projects from quarries.
In the wake of the Tanjung Bungah, Penang landslide which claimed the lives of 11 people on the construction site of a housing project, the ministry had revealed that it had rejected an application from the developer to build the project.
Earlier this year, the Department of Environment had issued a letter of rejection, noting the site is located next to a granite quarry which carried out blasting twice a month.
Its reasons for the rejection included insufficient buffer zones between the proposed project and quarrying activities, and steep slopes.
However, Stampin MP Julian Tan Kok Ping and Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen in a joint statement today alleged the location of the Tanjung Bungah housing project is 715 metres from the blasting site of the quarry, well beyond the 600-metre safety distance requirement set by the Land and Mines Department for any residential development from a quarry.
“Yet, Wan Junaidi now claims that the Tanjung Bungah housing project (which is 700 meters from the quarry’s blasting site) to be ‘dangerous’ and that the approval of such housing project ‘shows a disregard for the safety of future residents’.”
The two MPs then called on Wan Junaidi to take immediate action in Sarawak, claiming that there are at two active quarries in Kuching carrying out regular blasting at 7th Mile and Jalan Datuk Mohammad Musa, Kota Samarahan with blast sites situated 350 metres from nearby residential homes.
“Both quarries are literally situated next to residential houses and their blast sites are within 350 metres from the houses nearby, especially the 7th Mile quarry’s blast site which is less than 250 metres from the nearby residential houses!
“On the one hand, Wan Junaidi complains that 716 metres from a quarry is unsafe for residents in Penang, (but) on the other hand, he condones residential houses within 350 metres from quarries in Sarawak.
“Are the lives of Sarawakians so cheap and unworthy of protection by the NRE Ministry that Wan Junaidi allows quarry blasting and operation be carried out within 350 metres from residential houses in Sarawak? Was Wan Junaidi merely playing politics and taking part in the BN’s smearing game against the Pakatan Harapan Penang state government when he made the statement?”
Tan and Chong pointed out that in 2008, hundreds of residents from 7th Mile, Mei Lee Garden had petitioned the state government to stop the nearby quarry activities as the blasting had on several occasions flung stones towards the neighbouring houses, and the stones had penetrated through the roofs and ceilings of the houses in Mei Lee Garden. However, their protests were to no avail.
“Wan Junaidi was questioning the ‘conscience’ of the persons approving the Tanjung Bungah project despite the fact that the site is beyond the safety zone set by his ministry.
“If Wan Junaidi does not dare to take action against the two quarries which are within 350 metres from residential houses, then his talk about the lack of safety within the 600-metre (radius) zone of quarries and the Tanjung Bungah incident (which is 700 metres from the quarry) is just hypocrisy of the highest degree.
“For the safety of the residents in Sarawak, we urge Wan Junaidi to immediately issue the ‘stop work’ order against the above two quarries in Sarawak and stop playing politics with his ministerial duties.” — DayakDaily