GEORGE TOWN, Sept 18 — Compensation packages to fishermen affected by the ambitious Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project will only be revealed when the state executive council meets to approve it on October 2.
State executive councillor Dr Afif Bahardin said there are a few components to the compensation packages that will include an ex-gratia payment, upskilling and empowerment of the fishermen, housing and a new site for the fishermen to go out to sea.
“I will present it to the state exco for approval on October 2 before offering the packages to the fishermen,” he said in a press conference at the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s office today.
Dr Afif, who is health, agriculture and agro-based industries committee chairman, said the reclamation project will take more than five years to complete.
“The five to 10-year period of the project will be taken into account so we will consider the challenges the fishing community may have to face during this period,” he said.
The fishermen have been protesting against the PSR project, claiming work on the southern coast of the island will destroy their livelihood.
Earlier, Chow refuted claims by a researcher that the Department of Environment (DoE) only took two working days to approve the Environmental impact assessment (EIAI) for the PSR project.
Environmental researcher Evelyn Teh had made the claim during a dialogue session titled “Reclamation: A ticking time bomb” organised by the Penang Forum two days ago.
Chow gave a lengthy explanation on the whole process of applying for the EIA approval for the PSR project which started in 2017 and was only approved two years later.
“It is not the case of it being approved within two days as claimed, this is negative and fake information so we had to give the right information to correct this,” he said.
Chow said Teh’s claims were completely baseless as she failed to take into account the fact that the process of submitting the EIA for approval started since 2017.
“The Penang state government and the project delivery partner have been working and waiting for two years to obtain conditional approval for PSR for two years,” he said.
He said the first EIA report was submitted to the DoE on April 28 in 2017 and a public display of the project was held between May 24 and June 23 in 2017.
He said the EIA was updated and submitted to DoE on August 15 in 2017 and the state was told to obtain advice on the project from the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC).
He said what followed was a series of discussions and a resubmission of a fisheries impact assessment to be included into the EIA were held between October 31 in 2017 to March 29 this year.
He said the DoE informed that the EIA was rejected on August 2 last year as the state will still need to get approvals from relevant agencies.
The EIA report was updated again and submitted for the second time to the DoE on April 2 this year and another public display was held between April 29 and May 28 this year.
Meanwhile, the NPPC had on April 18 provided an 18-point advisory to the Penang state government with regards to the project.
After the second public display ended, a technical committee meeting was held on May 29 this year and the EIA was updated yet again and submitted for the third time to the DoE on June 20 this year.
“The EIA report was approved on June 25 after it was updated to include the feedback from the public display of the project,” he said.
He stressed that this chronology of the EIA submission for the PSR project showed that the state will always follow the rule of law in applying for approvals from the relevant authorities for any state project.