BALIK PULAU: The Penang South Islands (PSI) project - formerly known as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) - is expected to start in the third quarter (Q3) of this year, once the necessary approvals are obtained.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, said that the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report from the Department of Environment (DOE) is expected to be obtained this month.
"After getting the EIA approval, we still need to draw up an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) Report on how to mitigate the reclamation and construction of the islands. The state government will not start the PSI works until it gets all the necessary approvals.
"The EMP will take about two to three months to be approved by DOE, and then we will ensure that the EMP complies with environmental guidelines and is in line with climate change," he told reporters here on Thursday (Jan 12).
He was met after the presentation of the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) initiative and the implementation of the PSI Ecology Offset Master Plan (PEOM), at the Sungai Batu Fisherman's Service Centre (PPSN) at Teluk Kumbar here.
At the event, the state government also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state Forestry Department and Penang Infrastructure Corporation Sdn Bhd (PIC), to plant 200,000 trees and conserve mangrove habitats in Penang under PEOM.
Chow also witnessed the signing of a contract offered to USAINS Holdings, to carry out research on artificial reef ports and the release of fish and shrimp fry under PEOM. The research will involve the expertise of the Centre for Marine Ocean and Coastal Studies (CEMACS) of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
Meanwhile, Chow said that the state government also agreed to implement SIMP in phases, so that fishermen can enjoy some of the promised benefits first.
"The state government has also agreed to expedite assistance to affected fishermen because apart from it being a responsibility, we are also trying to ensure that fishermen can go to sea with bigger and safer boats, and ensure more catches than the previous boats with smaller horsepower engines," he said.
PSI involves the development of three artificial islands with an area of 1,700 hectares in the waters of Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas.
However, the PSI project received objections from the fishing community and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state because it was alleged that the project would damage the marine ecosystem in the area. - Bernama