(May 13): A Penang Barisan Nasional backbencher today cautioned the state government against becoming "the destroyer of the environment" by giving away rights to reclaim land in exchange for huge projects.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhammad Farid Saad said it would be bad news to the environment if too many reclamation projects were allowed.
He cited The Star report last month, which stated that the light rail transit (LRT) project would be paid off with the right to reclaim the sea.
The report stated "the payoff for building the LRT project is the right to reclaim 1,618ha at either the southern part of the island, of which about 485ha will be used for the future expansion of the airport and to expand the Free Industrial Zone, or at a 607ha stretch between the Penang Bridge and the mouth of Sungai Pinang, an area popularly known as the Middle Bank".
Speaking to reporters at the state legislative assembly building's opposition leader's office, Farid said: "I tried to picture this 1,618ha by comparing it with the Sri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) reclamation that will involve 360ha of land. That project will require about 33 million cubic metres of sand and two million tonnes of rocks.
"So to reclaim 1,618ha, we might be needing 148.5 million cubic metres of sand and nine million tonnes of rocks.
"If there is so much land to reclaim, a large quantity of rocks and sand will be needed and where will they come from? Penang's hills?"
Apart from this reclamation project for the future expansion of the airport, he said there was also the Bayan Mutiara billion ringgit project, which also involved reclamation.
"In the deal signed, the developer Ivory will reclaim 35 acres," he said, while also warning that the reclamations would also have adverse effects on marine life.
There are several major land reclamation projects in the state, involving huge projects by developers. Such projects have raised serious concerns and even objections from environmentalists.
Farid also spoke about the ambitious multi-billion ringgit highway and undersea tunnel projects in the state. He had submitted questions to the state on the three highway and tunnel projects.
He said the feasibility studies for the three highways were at 97% but only 3% for the tunnel, since the study on the latter began just in February.
"The state has given Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd a piece of land in Tanjung Tokong measuring 3.674 acres and worth RM135.8 million to pay for the studies for only the highways.
"Does this mean another huge payment will have to be made for the tunnel's feasibility study?" he said. – The Malaysian Insider