GEORGE TOWN: Penang has assured that work on its controversial Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project would not begin until the state complies with all 72 conditions set by the Department of Environment (DOE).
The assurance from the state government came a day after a demonstration by some 1,000 fishermen and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) against the massive reclamation project.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said there was still room for the state government to comply with the 72 conditions set by the DOE before physical works on the project begins.
“As long as we do not comply with the conditions, we will not proceed with the reclamation project,” he said in response to a supplementary question by Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN - Sungai Dua) on whether there was still room to review the project.
Chow reiterated that the state government would not start any project without obtaining the required approvals.
“From the beginning, we have kept to our word not to proceed with the project until we get the necessary approvals.
“Now that we have obtained approval with 72 conditions, we will make sure we meet all these conditions,” he said.
Asked by Yusoff about the monitoring mechanism to ensure the 72 conditions were met, Chow said the DOE would monitor and ensure that all conditions were met before the project could begin.
Meanwhile, Chow stressed that there were pros and cons to any project, and in the case of the PSR, the state government looked at the pros in planning for the sake of future development of the state for the next 50 years.
“The reclaimed islands will provide the continuity needed for the manufacturing industry in the state,” he added.
As for the impact on fishermen, he said there were solutions provided by the consultant and that the necessary studies were also conducted such as the social impact assessment, fisheries impact assessment and marine-based impact assessment.
It was reported that with no favourable response towards their plight, some 1,000 fisherman in the state handed over a memorandum to the Penang government to protest the proposed PSR project.
On July 11, the fishermen handed a similar memorandum to Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub in Parliament.
Earlier, they gathered at the adjacent Padang Kota Lama field where they took turns to speak up against the project and its impact on the fishermen, the fishing industry and the environment.
The state government is seeking a RM10 billion funding for its Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Pan Island Link (PIL) I projects, both of which are components in the state-initiated RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), aimed to address the state's worsening traffic woes.
For now, it is expected to fund the massive project through the PSR project, which will see the creation of three man-made islands in the southern part of the island, measuring some 1,800ha.
All three projects have been granted conditional approval from the relevant authorities.
Fishermen in the state, however, were against the reclamation move since it was announced back in 2015.
Environmentalists opposing the PSR project have argued that such a project would adversely impact the livelihood of fishermen and marine ecosystem in the southern part of the island.