Penang group says CM Chow’s claim that EIA took 2 years misleading

The Penang South Reclamation project involving three islands will finance the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan.

GEORGE TOWN: Pressure group Penang Forum has defended an expert’s claim that the Department of Environment (DoE) took only two days to approve the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.

It also rubbished an explanation by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow that the state waited two years for the DoE’s approval.

“Submission and waiting for approval are two different things. The process of EIA submission does not constitute as a ‘wait for approval’,” Penang Forum steering committee member Khoo Salma Nasution told FMT.

Environmental researcher Evelyn Teh had claimed that the DoE took just two days to approve the PSR.

Khoo said this could be seen from the PSR’s earlier EIA submission sent on April 28, 2017, which was rejected in August last year for not fulfilling certain conditions.

“Rejection should not be mistaken as waiting for approval,” she added.

Khoo Salma Nasution.

Khoo said following the rejection, the Penang government had applied for an EIA approval for the second time, which required the entire process to begin from scratch again.

She said the second EIA process began on April 2, 2019, with the DoE calling for a public review of the second EIA from May 9 to 28. A technical committee would later sit down to deliberate on the public review.

“The DoE received the final submission for the second EIA on June 21, 2019. It took them two working days to approve it. Now, this is a question for the DoE to answer.

“Taking into account the first rejection of the EIA, the claim that the state government and the project delivery partners (PDPs) waited two years for ‘approval’ is not only misleading, it prejudges the DoE’s approval for this EIA,” she said.

The PSR is a state government initiative to finance the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) through the reclamation of three islands covering 4,000 acres of land off Permatang Damar Laut.

Its PDP is SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Gamuda Bhd and Penang real estate development firms Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd.

Gamuda previously claimed that the PSR, commonly known as the three-island project, would one day rival Singapore’s Marina Bay.

FMT has contacted the DoE, Chow and SRS Consortium for a response.