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May 11th, 2011
Proposal to Check Landslides in Kundasang

Some 22 houses were damaged in a progressive landslide that occurred on April 9 to April 14 in the area, forcing 100 people from 36 families to evacuate their homes.

The landslip also destroyed some of the chalets at the Zen Garden Resort, which had stopped operation for fear of further landslide occurring and sending the rest of the structures now precariously hanging from a collapsed slope tumbling downhill.

Speaking at a press conference after inspecting the landslide disaster, Kurup said his ministry would suggest a development committee for sensitive areas comprising related departments and stakeholders to be set up.

The special committee, he said, would assist the PBT and other related authorities in overseeing development projects on high-risk lands, apart from promoting awareness and active participation from among the local community in preventing landslide-related tragedy.

“For immediate action, it is proposed that stability assessment and mapping for the lands in the area be conducted.

“The medium-term planning is to conduct a research on the impact of the land movement to the community and the economy of Kundasang, as well as to identify areas suitable for settlement based on landslide threat analysis,” he said.

Kurup said the proposal was drafted following a study conducted by the South East Asia Disaster Programme Research Institute (SEADPRI) and the Department of Mineral and Geoscience Malaysia, which confirmed that Kundasang has a sensitive, fragile and complex geological system.

According to him, the study found that the entire district of Kundasang is exposed to minor earthquake tremors and continuous translational movement of soils, which contribute to the frequent landslide in the area.

The study also found that slopes in Kundasang, which is divided into eight geological sectors based on its soil movements, registered an average of 0.5 meters in translational soil movement a year.

About 70 percent of the 50 sq km surrounding Kundasang Town has also been identified as high-risk areas, where further detailed studies are required for formulating suitable landslide mitigation measures.

Asked if the villagers in high-risk areas would be required to relocate, he said the Geoscience Department could only advise them on the risk of landslide and it is up to them whether or to vacant their lands.

“We will tell them if it is safe or not for them to live in that area, because they have the land title (which means the rights to be on that land). We can only advise them to be vigilant and watch for early signs (if they still want to live on high-risk land),” he said.