Group starts signature campaign against Southern Reclamation Scheme

10 May 2019 / 14:01 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Forum, an umbrella body of various civil societies here, has launched an online signature campaign against the proposed mega Southern Reclamation Scheme (SRS). As of noon it had 239 signatures.

The forum plans to submit the signatures with a memorandum to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, said its spokeswoman Khoo Salma Nasution.

The prominent conservationist said that the lack of public consultation and detailed information about the project was shocking in view of the size of the proposed reclamation which is 1,821ha or 7 square miles – the size of Johor’s mega Forest City.

“We call on Tun (Mahathir) as the chairman of the National Physical Planning Council to reject the SRS mega project,” she said.

She gave 20 reasons why the proposed reclamation, which is an integral part of the state’s financial package for the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan, needs to be rejected.

Among the reasons were that the reclamation will destroy fishing grounds and that in turn will affect the livelihoods of 4,817 inshore fishermen in Pantai Sungai Batu and Teluk Kumbar, Khoo claimed.

The impact of sand-mining will also be felt in Perak.

The deep seabed (benthic zone) will be dredged and destroyed.

As in the northern reclamation, fishermen in Penang and an additional 6,080 fishermen in Perak will be effected.

The coastal environment of Permatang Damar Laut, Gertak Sanggul and Teluk Kumbar will be destroyed by reclamation and pollution, she said.

While claiming to target 40% reduction, the reclamation project will generate an additional 3.2 million tons of carbon emissions annually, said Khoo.

She alleged that the transport master plan is a poor excuse because it is fundamentally flawed, consisting of a slew of expensive projects rather than viable, integrated solutions.

The proposed Penang airport extension has been superseded by the Kulim International Airport (LTAK) plan.

She said that the apparent need for land reclamation is not caused by land shortage, but by bad planning.

The Penang Development Corporation owns 1,821ha of land in Seberang Perai.

“Malaysia does not need another “Forest City”. The projected population on the three (reclaimed) islands will be 180,611ha, but who will be the inhabitants? With only 6–20% housing land in the “affordable” category, will the bulk of the properties be for high-end foreign buyers?

“What vision do we want for Penang? The expansion of our present car-dominated concrete urban sprawl until it devours our hills and seas?

Or a smart, green, car-lite, connected and livable Penang for all residents?” Khoo asked.

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