GEORGE TOWN, Oct 12 — The Penang state government is finalising an ex-gratia package for fishermen who are affected by the controversial Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, state exco Zairil Khir Johari (DAP — Tanjung Bungah) said during the state legislative assembly.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman said the state, through its Fishermen Taskforce, is finalising mitigation steps, initiatives and the social impact management plan (SIMP) mechanism.
“Under SIMP for PSR, the state is finalising various packages for affected fishermen,” he said.
The first package is an aid package that involved ex-gratia payment and monthly allowances while the second package, a support package, involved the construction of a new fishermen’s jetty, a fishermen’s cooperative, tuition and education schemes for their children, training schemes for fishermen and their children and employment opportunities.
“Priority will also be given to fishermen, who do not have their own homes, to register for affordable housing,” he said.
Zairil was replying to a question by Goh Choon Aik (PKR — Bukit Tambun) regarding the PSR project and the plight of fishermen affected by the project.
Goh said fishermen had objected to the PSR project as it would affect their livelihood and asked if the state had come up with solutions to allay the fishermen’s fears.
“The state government, through its relevant bodies and agencies, are gathering information to finalise the packages for the fishermen,” Zairil said.
He said the state had formed the fishermen taskforce, chaired by Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, to look into the plight of the fishermen.
On the PSR, Zairil said the state had obtained all the necessary approvals from the federal government for the PSR project.
The PSR has already obtained an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval on condition that the state prepare an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for approval by the Department of Environment (DOE).
He said the EMP was to ensure that project contracts fulfil conditions stated in the EIA approval during reclamation works.
“We have submitted the EMP (Amendment 1) to the DOE and it is still pending approval,” he said.
He stressed that the state government is working with the project delivery partner to refine mitigation measures to minimise the social and environmental impact of the project before physical works begin.
He said the project delivery partner (PDP), SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, is now in the process of improving its financial model to finance the massive Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) through the sale of reclaimed lands created under PSR.
“The schedule of implementation for all projects under the PTMP will be set once the financial architecture, which has to take into account the economic slowdown due to the pandemic, is finalised by the PDP and approved by the state,” he said.
The PSR is a reclamation project to create three man-made islands, measuring 1,800ha, off the southern coast of Penang island.
The PSR obtained EIA approval with 72 conditions from the DOE but various groups, fishermen and non-governmental organisations, have been vocal in objecting against the project.
Many groups have raised concerns over adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts due to the massive reclamation.