BUTTERWORTH: The Penang state government has assured that the reclamation project south of the island would not start as the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have yet to be completed.
Penang State Local Government, Transport Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said they are waiting for the setting up of a joint committee by the Natural Resources and Environmental Ministry to study the reclamation projects in Penang.
“We will wait for Federal Government approval before starting work to reclaim land south of Penang Island,” he said adding that the state assembly had also passed a motion that the reclamation work will not start without approval from Putrajaya.
The state had proposed reclaiming about 1,500ha of land off the southern tip of Penang island to create three islands – Island A (930.78ha), Island B (560ha) and Island C (330.22ha) – under the South Reclamation Scheme (SRS) to fund its RM46bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.
On Wednesday, Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar called for Penang to halt its reclamation projects pending a new dual-assessment system for the development projects.
Dr Wan Junaidi said a committee would be set up to look into, among others, legal and constitutional aspects pertaining to the developments.
He said the study would then be used as a test case for other reclamation projects nationwide including to draw a new system on EIA and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA).
He also said the Cabinet, the National Land Council and the National Physical Planning Council would consider the new guidelines that will include a wider range of elements to be considered before development projects are approved.
Two NGOs from Penang supported this call, saying that all reclamation work in the state should be put off until new and improved requirements for EIAs and DEIAs are put in place.
President S.M. Mohamed Idris of both Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) said the announcement by Natural Resources and Environment Ministry for new requirements to the existing EIA regulations and DEIA guidelines are long overdue.
“Urgent improvements need to be made to overcome existing shortcomings in the current system.
“There should be a serious consideration of alternatives to proposed projects, including a no-project option, so that projects are not allowed to proceed if the environmental and social impacts are serious.
“Other measures should include the hiring of independent consultants which are paid through an independent fund to which project proponents provide financial resources.
This will prevent the dangers of having consultants who produce biased EIAs or DEIAs which favour their paymasters,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Did you find this article insightful?