Penang NGOs warn of harm from massive land reclamation project

The coast off the island in the background (where the high rises are) is marked for the proposed Sri Tanjung Pinang II reclamation project that will cover 706 acres. — Pictures by K.E. Ooi
The coast off the island in the background (where the high rises are) is marked for the proposed Sri Tanjung Pinang II reclamation project that will cover 706 acres. — Pictures by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, March 27 — Penang groups today warned the state administration over plans for massive land reclamation near Tanjung Tokong, drawing parallels with a similar project believed to have contributed to Barisan Nasional (BN) losing the state in 2008.

According to the Penang Forum, an informal network of non-governmental organisations based here, the proposed Sri Tanjung Pinang II project to reclaim 760 acres (307.5 hectares) off the coast of Tanjung Tokong to create “an island” will have adverse impact on the area.

“The projected environmental and social impact of this colossal project is unprecedented in size and consequences that include loss of livelihood for 470 fishermen, sedimentation and siltation, and future issues such as traffic congestion,” Penang Forum Steering committee member and ecologist Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong said.

Pointing to the Sri Tanjung Pinang I project that reclaimed 240 acres in 2006, the group said it had caused siltation and sedimentation along Gurney Drive and possibly even the Penang Port.

Although it refrained from opposing the project outright, members of the group claimed it would be more damaging than the Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) that was vehemently protested during the last decade.

The PGCC was the target of campaign by Penang NGOs back in 2007, and public opposition against the project was believed to have led to Barisan Nasional losing control of the state in the 2008 general election.

PGCC was a planned mixed development project situated on the current Penang Turf Club land covering 104ha that never took off.

“We are not opposing this project. We want the state government to be more careful, there needs to be a plan for it to be carefully done and to show what benefits or costs it will bring to the people of Penang,” a Penang Forum member Loh Lim Lin Lee said.

The Detailed Environmental Impact assessment (DEIA) of the proposed second phase was displayed to the public for response and comments between February and March this year.

Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong said the reclamation project could bring about adverse environmental and social impact.
Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong said the reclamation project could bring about adverse environmental and social impact.

The group criticised the DEIA by claiming that it only studied the impact due to the reclamation but not those of the proposed development projects on the reclaimed land.

The group called for the state to have an ad hoc panel expert panel to review the DEIA report and that independent experts from civil societies should be included in the review panel.

They also called for another public forum for a full transparent review of the proposed project. 

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