Ahead of a public consultation organised by the developer this Saturday as part of a detailed EIA process, environmentalist Dr Leong Yueh Kwong has raised several questions regarding the proposed Phase 2 of the Seri Tanjung Pinang land reclamation.
On its website, the developer says the 740-acre project “will create the largest masterplanned waterfront community in Penang’s history and propel Seri Tanjung Pinang into the world’s elite list of great waterfront developments. Offering a mix of luxury residences and even more world-class leisure and commercial facilities, Phase II promises the finest pleasures of seafront living to international investors, holiday-makers and luxury homeowners.”
Yueh Kwong’s questions:
1. Why was the original proposal for land reclamation for such a massive project approved after only a preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?
The main difference between a review procedure of preliminary EIA and Detailed EIA is that the preliminary EIA is reviewed and approved internally by the DOE, usually by a small subcommittee of DOE officers who may not have the expertise to evaluate such a technical document. A detailed EIA would have an ad hoc review panel consisting of experts in various fields.
The preliminary EIA would have stated that there would be no adverse environmental impact that could not be mitigated against or else it would not have been approved. We know from observation of what happened in Gurney Drive that this is not true.
2. Why was there no monitoring of the environmental aspect of the project when it was clear over the years that the sedimentation on Gurney drive was the result of the land reclamation? The DOE had not done any monitoring as far as I know and neither had other agenencies such as the Jabatan Parit dan Saliran (DID), Marine Department or Chemistry Department.
How has the land reclamation affected the Penang port, which needs very expensive dredging (hundreds of milions of ringgit coming out of public funds) to deepen the port?
How has the reclamation affected the fishing of the local fisher folk?
Has the beach erosion (where the beach hotels are located) of the north coast been affected?
3. If the massive land reclamation has been approved by the state government based on an inadequate and misleading and wrong EIA, surely the State government has a responsibility to reject any further development based on a wrong approval?
4. As to the requirements of the scope of the detailed EIA, there is a requirement for a cost benefit analysis. Who benefits from the project and who pays for the environmental consequences? This should be highlighted.
A proper social impact analysis should be a key issue in view of the considerable adverse impact such as that arising from traffic, etc.
For me, I believe under normal circumstance, land reclamation should be carried out by the state to meet the real needs of the people. The state government, elected by the people, could have decided what it would do with reclaimed land – to ensure balanced use of the land for a whole spectrum of people. A large chunk of land could have been reserved for public amenities, a park, public schools and public hospitals etc while a certain section of this prime land could have been allocated for sales to private developers to fund the reclamation project.