GEORGE TOWN: The federal government has given the green light for Penang’s reclamation project to build three man-made islands, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Friday (Jul 5).
Mr Chow said the approval granted by the Department of Environment (DOE) came with a list of 72 conditions.
“When we implement the project, we will comply with all conditions and regulations set by the authorities, even if this requires (more) expenditure,” he said, according to local media reports.
The mega project, officially known as the Penang South Reclamation development, will add a total land area of 1,800ha off the southern coast of Penang Island. The reclamation is expected to take about 15 years to complete.
Once built, the three islands will raise RM70 billion (US$16.9 billion) for the state via sale of land lots.
The income will then be used to fund the state’s RM46 billion transportation master plan, an inter-connected transport system on both land and sea aiming at solving the traffic woes. Besides construction of highways, public services such as light rail transit, monorail, and trams are also part of the plan.
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Developers have touted the project as one that could put Penang on the world map and rival other cities like Singapore and Dubai.
Since its proposal, the reclamation project has drawn criticism from local non-governmental groups over environmental concerns. Fishermen, in particular, have expressed concern that their livelihoods would be affected.
Others have also questioned the need to reclaim land, as parts of Seberang Perai, the mainland part of the state, can also be utilised for development.
The chief minister had reportedly said back then that the state government and the reclamation project’s developer would take all suggestions and objections into consideration, promising appropriate mitigating measures.
Last year, the environmental impact assessment report of the reclamation project was initially rejected by the DOE. The state government then revised the report and again put it on public display in April.
On Friday, Mr Chow said the state government would study the list of conditions imposed by DOE.
“I believe these conditions are not new. Relevant agencies have imposed conditions on the state government during the application process,” he said.