JOHOR BARU: SEVERAL major amendments to the original plan for the controversial Forest City project along the Johor Straits are expected as pressure mounts from environmental non-governmental organisations and concerns from Singapore.
The changes were proposed by Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Environmental Solutions Sdn Bhd (AES), which was appointed by project developer Country Garden Sdn Bhd to prepare a preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the mammoth project.
The proposed changes are aimed at cushioning the impact of the reclamation project on the surrounding environment.
In the preliminary report, one of the major changes proposed was to build two parallel water channels cutting across the island, created by reclamation work, almost in the shape of a right angle isosceles triangle.
The water channels, which will form part of the waterfront features, will also be parallel to the Johor Straits to encourage water flow.
A source close to the company told the New Straits Times that the changes were aimed at making the project more friendly to the Johor Straits, which separates Malaysia and Singapore.
“The main purpose of the water channels is to improve the hydrology of the straits, since there are concerns and worries that the reclaimed island may block or hamper water flow along it.
“With the water channels to be used as a mitigation measure, water flow is still possible, despite the presence of the reclaimed island,” said the source.
The water channel, which is 300m wide, could also serve as part of landscaping features on the reclaimed island, offering waterfront facilities.
Another proposal was to replant seagrass, since a lot of it had been destroyed following the reclamation work.
Seagrass is the food source of dugong and other marine life, found in abundance in the Johor Straits.
However, environmental NGOs doubted the effectiveness of replanting works, especially when the replanting zone was fronting the open sea.
A Malaysian Nature Society spokesman, who did not want to be named, said the survival rate of seagrass replanting was 10 per cent.
“Seagrass grows best in its natural environment, but not through replanting. If it is grown in an unsheltered area, the success rate is low,” said the spokesman.
Last week, the Forest City project became a focal point in Iskandar Malaysia after Singapore raised concerns about the controversial reclaimed island with Putrajaya.
Besides waiting for more details about the project, the republic had also expressed worries that the reclamation may affect the border of the two countries.