Another article from fz.com on this project:
by Sangeetha Amarthalingam
GEORGE TOWN (March 21): The 760-acre second phase of Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP2), an ambitious development on land off the east coast of Penang Island, is expected to stretch five kilometres along the coast between Tanjung Tokong and Gurney Drive.
If the project is approved, STP2 would house about 202,500 people on the island that would have 351.71 acres allocated for residential units and 163.8 acres for commercial units.
According to STP2’s Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA), among others, the project was planned to relieve growth pressure and land scarcity, to show itself as a model for sustainable living, and relieve traffic congestion.
But there are doubts on the actual benefactors of the project, seeing that the cost of land and property has increased, it would only most likely benefit a select group while the rest including fishing communities suffer the project’s adverse impacts.
While most of the physical impact such as increase in population and traffic would be felt on Penang island, environmentalists claim the effects on the sea and those who rely on it would be equally significant.
Despite such fears, on Feb 19, State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said there would be no `turn back’ on the project because it was already approved by the previous government in 1992.
Phee said cancelling the project would result in millions in compensation having to be paid to developer Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd.
Seemingly, the state was expected to gain 110 acres from the reclamation works that would be used as collateral for the RM6.3 billion integrated road infrastructure projects.
Recently, a study by researchers with Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) on the fishing community that would be affected by the project as per the DEIA, revealed that they would lose their livelihood.
“As it is, the first phase of the STP project was disadvantageous to the community whose problems have yet to be resolved.
“With STP2, which is larger, we are concerned that the fisheries sector will not only be seriously affected but the effects could be irreversible.
“How would the project proponent mitigate total loss of fishing grounds?” said the NGOs’ president S.M. Mohamed Idris in a letter outlining the groups’ feedback on the DEIA to the Department of the Environment (DOE).
Mohamed Idris said that although the DEIA considered the fishermen’s fears, it was unjust to say that the loss of fishing grounds would be `negated’ by stating that the STP2 would bring wider opportunities to Penang’s economy.
He also commented on the widely reported seagrass that is found off the Jelutong coast where there was a possibility that it would be filled in by the STP2.
“Looking at the methodology shown in the DEIA, taking grab samples only at five locations within the project area was insufficient to rule out the existence of seagrass in areas that would be filled in by the STP2.
“The only good way to determine whether seagrass beds exist in areas proposed to be filled in by STP2, would be to send divers down to visually inspect the seafloor swimming transects that cover the entire 760 acres of seafloor.
“Since this has not been done, we cannot dismiss the existence of seagrass beds in the waters there,” he said.
He also pointed out that the report failed to consider the inclusion of sand sourcing activities within its DEIA study.
It was stated in the DEIA that approximately 33.1 million tonnes of sand would be extracted from off the coast of Perak from an area measuring 43ha and about 3,820 trips will be made over five years for this project.
Mohamed said judging from the nature of the exercise, the study on the impacts to the marine environment and life should have been conducted alongside the DEIA because it was integral component of the proposed reclamation project.
He also said over the years, CAP received complaints from fishermen that barges transporting dredged material from other projects have not been fully compliant to the guidelines stipulated by the Department of Environment (DOE).
The DEIA also utilised data on meteorology and climate that were old and did not reflect new information, particularly when there has been a marked change in the climate, he said.
Mohamed also voiced concern over the shipment of rocks that will be quarried from Batu Maung in Penang or Tanjung Hantu in Perak.
“This proposed development is not a stand-alone project. One of the components that would have adverse environmental impact was rock quarrying for the construction of perimeter bunds.
“It is estimated that two million tonnes of rock are needed for this reason. It is an enormous amount and would definitely change the existing environment where the rocks would be quarried.
“A recent visit to areas around Segari, near Tanjung Hantu, revealed devastating effects to the natural environment following quarrying and sand-mining activities.
“Thus, the DEIA should take into account the adverse impact of rock quarrying that was a necessary part of this project,” he said.