Jelutong landfill in limbo

Close to the action: An aerial view of the Jelutong landfill in Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Four years have passed, and there is still no sign of progress on the RM1bil Jelutong landfill rehabilitation and development project.

Penang local government, town and country planning committee chairman H’ng Mooi Lye said all approvals for the project were only expected to be obtained in the third quarter of this year.

“Once they are secured, the next stage is to start rehabilitation work.

“A mixed development will be built on the site after the rehabilitation work is complete,” he said during the state assembly meeting here yesterday.

H’ng was responding to a written question by Ong Ah Teong (PH-Batu Lancang), who had asked if the project’s Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Fisheries Impact Assessment (FIA), and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had been approved.

H’ng said the company involved (PLB Engineering Bhd) was in the process of obtaining approval from the relevant authorities to carry out the rehabilitation and development project.

He said the EIA had been submitted to the Environment Department for approval.

“The SIA has been approved, and the FIA has secured the necessary comments,” he said.

Ong further asked whether the state government had planned to set up an integrated solid waste management centre on the island.

H’ng replied that there was no intention to do so.

He added that the Penang government’s original plan with both the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai City Council was to create a facility equipped with waste-to-energy and zero-waste technology during Phase 3 of the Pulau Burung Landfill Site through a Request for Proposal.

“However, the plan has been delayed because the state government and both city councils are in the process of negotiating with the Federal Government to adopt the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) in Penang.

“The results of the study and the negotiation process will determine the direction of the development of integrated solid waste management facilities in the state,” he said.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Jagdeep Singh Deo also interjected, saying the state should move beyond having landfills.

“We should look at new technology and see which way is best to get rid of the waste without it going to a landfill,” he said.

Jagdeep Singh, who was H’ng’s predecessor, said on the sidelines of the state assembly that technology has advanced and other options can be looked into to dispose of waste.

In June last year, The Star reported that PLB Engineering Bhd had signed a joint development agreement with the Penang government in 2020 to develop the RM1bil Jelutong landfill rehabilitation project.

A state government source claimed at the time that the plan had not even left the drawing board.

The landfill on the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, a mere 3km from the heart of the city’s heritage enclave, has been dubbed a “gold mine” because it is the only large swathe of undeveloped land left in downtown.

To rehabilitate the landfill, extensive excavation, shore re-alignment and land re-engineering would be necessary.

It has been estimated that it could bring in billions of ringgit in gross development value.

The area had once been a sanitary landfill, but since 2002, only construction debris and garden waste have been dumped there.

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