Certain beach stretches in Penang are being eroded by changing tidal patterns, attributed to land reclamation work.
Hotel operators concerned over beach erosion
Himanshu Bhatt and Opalyn Mok
GEORGE TOWN (Feb 2, 2010): A series of bizarre tides has eroded a stretch of the Tanjung Bungah beach here, causing its level to be lowered by as much as two metres.
The erosion, which has created gaping embankment-like exposures where large amounts of sand have disappeared, has caused concern among hotel operators and visitors in the area.
Paradise Sandy Beach Resort general manager Jeff De Zilva said he has appealed to the authorities to investigate as the degradation was affecting the environment and tourism in the state.
“People come from afar to holiday here”I am seriously thinking of getting rocks to protect the beach,” he said yesterday (2 Feb 2010).
He said the erosion, which has been occurring over the past month, was so powerful that at least three palm trees planted by the hotel have been uprooted.
De Zilva asked if the unusual tides that have hit the beach were linked to reclamation works in nearby areas.
It is understood that the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) has surveyed the site. When contacted, however, its officer said the cause had not been ascertained and the matter was being studied.
Meanwhile, the state government said it is identifying coastal sites to be gazetted for planting of mangroves and for special reclamation in an effort to protect the island’s eroding shoreline and restore the natural hydro-flow of coastal waters.
The move follows a report by the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (Nahrim) last year which indicated that reclamation works had brought about significant geological changes that in turn may have led to alterations in tidal patterns in the Penang Channel and the surrounding seas.
State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said much of the natural coastline had been adversely affected by siltation and abnormal sedimentations.
“We will have to look into this problem and find a solution in order to change the hydro-flow system of the coastal waters for the better,” he said.
Phee said Penang’s sea waters had been subjected to a series of dredging and reclamation works.
He also said environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for coastal areas had in the past been made in “unrestricted and questionable” manners.
TheSun reported today that the state-commissioned marine study by Nahrim has indicated that sea currents have been forced to be diverted, pushing mud to be deposited along the island’s north-eastern coast and the Penang Channel.
Phee said the state was also concerned about marine areas where mud was being dumped by certain agencies. The areas include the sea waters off Muka Head, off Pulau Kendi and at Split Head at the mouth of the Prai River.
“The tsunami in 2004 had also pushed sediment in such a way that it was deposited all around the coastal waters of the state,” he said.
The Nahrim report in particular pointed to the Gurney Drive coastline which has been affected by mud after massive reclamations nearby.
The other affected areas include those where a fatal dragon-boat training accident occurred on Jan 17. Five students and a teacher were killed when their boat with 18 people was hit by waves. Survivors recounted being pulled down by powerful undercurrents. — theSun