Forest City project dialogue with villagers turns into commotion

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 21 Sep 2014

JOHOR BARU: Tempers flared at a meeting between developers and residents on Sunday over a giant development project in Gelang Patah, about 25km from here, that is touted to be larger than Pangkor Island.

The floor erupted in shouts when a consultant for the 2,000ha Forest City project told them that in a study carried out among the affected people, including residents of nearby villages, 58.3% had accepted the development.

Resident Azman Abdul Rahman, 49, asked the panel to disclose the actual number of residents who were involved in the study, while others alleged that none of them had seen or heard of the survey.

Teacher Hanifi Bilos, 47, demanded that the panel set another date for thorough discussions on the project and solutions to the villagers’ problems.

The panel, comprising the project’s detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) consultants and board members of the project, disregarded the request and proceeded with the session and attempted to answer questions from those remaining in the Gelang Patah multi-purpose hall after about half of the crowd walked out.

The Forest City project, being developed by China’s Country Garden and Johor state company Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor, involves the development of a 2,000ha man-made island, which will be bigger than Pangkor.

It was earlier reported that the reclamation work for the project had been temporarily halted pending the submission of a DEIA by the developer and approval from the Department of Environment.

At a press conference after the meeting, Country Garden project director Datuk Zamani Kasim said he did not expect many “red flags” because the developers had held earlier discussions with some 20 village representatives.

“We are planning to have another dicussion with the residents next Saturday to tackle their concerns and to assure them that their input will be taken into consideration,” he said, adding that the project was still in the preliminary stages.

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