GEORGE TOWN: A leading consumer group has called on the Penang government to suspend and review its Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) amid concerns over the impact some of its projects would have on the environment.
In a statement today, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) president SM Mohamed Idris said it was deeply concerned over the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) highway, a 20km project that would entail tunnelling through Penang Hill and its surrounding regions.
He said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) released showed it would be “disastrous” for Penangites and the environment.
“We reiterate our call for a thorough review of the PTMP and for the plan to be suspended pending review,” he said.
Under the PTMP, the Penang government had outlined plans to build highways, a light-rail transit (LRT) line and a monorail line.
Mohamed Idris also said the state government’s request for a RM1 billion bridging loan from the federal government was “shocking” and also against Putrajaya’s drive to reduce expenditure on major projects.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had asked for a bridging loan of RM1 billion from Putrajaya to kickstart the PTMP.
Mohamed Idris said rather than committing to such a huge expenditure, the state ought to demand federal funds to prevent floods, fix fragile hill lands and address other environmental concerns.
“Funds are needed to rehabilitate hundreds of hill slopes and hill areas affected by landslides,” he said.
“The state of our rivers ought to be improved, and more green spaces and absorbable surfaces ought to be created to absorb rainwater.
“Our beaches and mangrove forests ought to be conserved and rehabilitated. The living conditions of the poor ought to be improved.
“These are all vital areas for financing if Penang is to recover from the damages caused by recent storms, high winds, heavy rainfalls and floods and to prevent or minimise future problems.”
Mohamed Idris said the PTMP would entail the cutting of more hills and land reclamation which would further add to environmental problems.
The PTMP is to be financed by the creation of three islands south of Penang Island.