Penang reclamation project pending DoE approval

The project involves the development of 3 man-made islands near Bayan Lepas

pic by BERNAMA

THE Penang government will not be allowed to proceed with the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project until its environmental management plan (EMP) receives approval from the Department of Environment (DoE).

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the government take serious note of public complaints against the project, including the submission of several memoranda calling for the cancellation of the project.

Among concerns regarding the project is the permanent environmental damage and its effect on anglers’ livelihood in the region.

“The ministry views all development projects seriously, particularly those subjected to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulation as required under Section 34A of the Environmental Quality Act.

“Therefore, the project mover cannot undertake any form of construction on-site until the DoE approves the EMP report, where it forms one of the 72 main conditions imposed in the approval of the EIA report,” Tuan Ibrahim told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The minister said this in response to a question from Che Alias Hamid (Perikatan Nasional-Kemaman) who asked on the measures to cancel the project as he said it would severely harm the environment and disrupt the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.

The PSR project involves the development of three man-made islands of about 1,800ha at waters off Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas.

It is being developed to underwrite part of the cost for the Penang Transport Master Plan worth RM46 billion.

Environmental groups have urged the state government to revisit the impact of ongoing and past reclamation projects and draw lessons from the impact of the Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) seafront development.

It was reported that fishermen in Tanjung Tokong and Bagan Ajam have seen their catch drop by 50% to 70% compared to before STP2.

In July last year, former Agriculture Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the PSR project would affect over 4,990 fishermen and 511 marine aquaculture operators.

He suggested mitigation measures to be implemented by the state government, such as gazetting the strip from Pulau Betong to Telok Bahang as a conservation zone and the Middle Bank as a fisheries-protected area.

Hundreds of fishermen had marched to Parliament last year in protest of the project.

Despite the public dissatisfaction, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow last month announced another plan to reclaim a new parcel of land off Bayan Lepas, near an area where the Queensbay Mall shopping centre is located.

The reclaimed land will cover an area of 453.25ha, extending until the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge.

Chow said the reclamation project would turn the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone into a new waterfront and coastal residences.

He added that calls for prospective project delivery partners would be made through an advertisement.