Environmental issues the main concern with PIL1

16 Apr 2019 / 20:12 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The need to mitigate environmental impact is one of the main conditions that came with the approval for Penang’s Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) project.

In its environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project, the Department of Environment (DoE) made it clear that issues related to water and air pollution and land use must be looked into.

Another factor that had to be taken into account was noise pollution given that there would be blasting during the construction process, the report added.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who released the report today, said the EIA was valid for two years.

“Given the short time we have, project delivery partner SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd will have to commence work on the project without delay,“ Chow said. “They must also ensure that there are no hitches.”

At a press conference to disclose details of the EIA report, including the 56 conditions attached, he reiterated that the state would implement the project in a transparent manner, and all queries and concerns would be addressed as often as required through all platforms.

The project will be monitored according to guidelines in an environment management plan to ensure that all the conditions as specified by the DoE are adhered to.

In response to allegations that many of the concerns raised by various stakeholders have not been properly addressed, Chow said the DoE had examined all the queries from the people.

He pointed out that the PIL1 blueprint was also displayed to gain feedback from the various stakeholders.

A spokesman for Sahabat Alam Malaysian (SAM) said the 56 conditions did not clearly outline the issues of land acquisition and resettlement of those affected by the project.

“Land is scarce in Penang so we want to know whether affected families will accept the offers to relocate given that many choice areas on the island are expensive,“ the spokesman said.

In response, Chow said tourists would stop visiting if the roads were always congested.

He said the state government and the project delivery partners were trying to secure a bridging loan to start up the RM7 billion project.

The PIL1 is part of the RM40 billion Penang Transport Masterplan project that incorporates a cross-channel undersea tunnel, a light rail transit system, three paired highways connecting Gurney Drive and Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway as well as another stretch from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang.

There will also be a tram system within the heritage enclave and a cable car link between Weld Quay to Butterworth but that will be part of another project — the Pan Island Link 2.

There has been opposition to almost all aspects of the project. Transport expert Dr Lim Mah Hui calls the huge financial investment a possible man-made disaster.

He wants the state to consider a more flexible and cheaper alternative.

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