GEORGE TOWN, Dec 27 — The Environment and Natural Resources Ministry will urge the National Physical Planning Council to reject the Penang state government’s proposal to reclaim land off the southern coast of the island.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar said he will do all he can to stop the proposed land reclamation from being implemented.
“We must look at the negative impact such a massive reclamation project will have on the environment and we must also consider the protests by the people against it,” he told reporters after a meet the people session at Permatang Damar Laut in Teluk Kumbar today.
He had also received a memorandum against the land reclamation project by the Penang Fishermen Association.
He reiterated that his ministry has yet to receive any technical report or the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the proposed land reclamation project.
He said the state government can’t go ahead with the project without green light from the National Physical Planning Council.
Wan Junaidi said the land reclamation project, which proposes to create three small islands off the coast, could also give rise to issues relating to the country’s borders.
He said the land reclamation will change the shape of Penang’s continental shelves and encroach into international waters.
He said new borders have to be formed as it has to be three nautical miles from the land of any country and the forming of new islands will push the borders further into international waters.
“The question is whether Indonesia will accept this new border and this will involve international laws,” he said.
He then reminded the Penang state government not to use local government laws to implement any project without taking into consideration views of federal agencies.
“The land reclamation project must not proceed without taking into consideration the environmental impact and the impact it has on the fishermen here,” he said.
He told the state government not to focus on getting RM6 billion from the land reclamation project and forget about the livelihood of fishermen in the state.
“They may only be a minority in the state and their economic contribution may not be high but they are also Penangites and they deserve to be protected,” he said.
The proposed reclamation project, dubbed as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, was meant to fund the state’s ambitious RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The proposed project includes the creation of two man-made islands off the coast, of about 2,000 acres and 1,300 acres respectively, and later another island covering 800 acres.
The PSR Environmental Impact Assessment Report was put up on public display in May and June this year to gather public feedback.
The project has received flak from local fishermen groups, civil society groups and Penang opposition leaders, citing environmental impact as one of the main reasons for opposing it.