GEORGE TOWN: The developer's application for the residential project where the landslide at Tanjung Bungah happened had been rejected by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry as the site was located next to a granite quarry.
The landslide which happened on Saturday (Oct 21) morning killed at least 11 people.
In a statement released on Sunday, the ministry said the developer Taman Sri Bunga was issued a letter of rejection on Jan 23, 2015 as it was "not a safe and peaceful environment for people to live in".
The ministry did not support the development as the site had no sufficient buffer zones between the apartment project and the quarrying activities, the statement added.
The Teik Granite Quarry - a permanent granite quarry that started operations in the 1960s - performs blasting twice a month where rocks are blasted loose from the hillside, with the last one conducted on Oct 9.
The rocks are then crushed to smaller pieces at a crushing site, also within the quarry.
"The quarrying activities are only 162m away from the crushing site and between 400m to 500m from the blasting site of the quarry. It is therefore not a safe and peaceful environment for people to live in," the ministry said.
The development also consisted of steep slopes which required a detailed engineering study that may also warrant an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval.
"Unfortunately they decided to ignore our advice and went ahead with the construction with blatant disregard to the lives of their workers."
The ministry also added that it was disappointed by the Penang state government's "lack of oversight" of the project.
"What is perplexing is that there was no interference from the state government which raises more questions than there are answers," the ministry said.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Saturday said that a commission of inquiry will be set up.
"The Penang State Commission of Inquiry will conduct a full and independent investigation to determine the cause of this work site accident and take action against those responsible," he said in the statement.
“Whilst we do not wish to speculate, strong suspicions remain of professional negligence, defects in monitoring and non-compliance with work safety procedures,” he said.