CAP, SAM kecewa kelulusan EIA untuk Pan Island Link (BM/ENG)

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Are more highways the way forward for Penang?

[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Persatuan Pengguna Pulau Pinang (CAP) dan Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) amat kecewa dengan pengumuman Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang pada 15 April bahawa penilaian kesan alam sekitar (EIA) untuk Pan Island Link (PIL) telah diluluskan oleh Jabatan Alam Sekitar (JAS) dengan 56 syarat.

Kami juga amat terkejut JAS telah meluluskan EIA walaupun mendapat maklum balas daripada orang awam.

Kami adalah antara ribuan penduduk Pulau Pinang dan kumpulan yang telah menyuarakan kebimbangan kami mengenai EIA, yang mempunyai banyak kecacatan.

Kami tidak bersetuju sepenuhnya dengan Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang Chow Kon Yeow yang mendakwa kelulusan EIA PIL merupakan satu peristiwa penting dalam menangani masalah lalu lintas di Pulau Pinang.

PIL bukanlah penyelesaian jangka panjang kepada masalah lalu lintas kita. Laporan EIA mendakwa bahawa terdapat pengurangan masa yang ketara tetapi tidak mempedulikan analisis lalu lintasnya sendiri bahawa kemampuan penuh akan dicapai menjelang 2030.

Untuk membelanjakan RM8bn bagi jalan ini adalah satu pembaziran sumber awam yang sangat besar yang bukanlah penyelesaian jangka panjang bagi masalah lalu lintas kita.

Bahkan kita juga telah menjelaskan bahawa laporan EIA itu salah dalam mendakwa bahawa tiada struktur warisan yang akan terjejas. Bagaimanapun, ini tidak benar memandangkan Sekolah Phor Tay, Sekolah St Nicholas, Sekolah Tinggi Perempuan Cina, Kuil Shree Muniswarar, Keretapi Bukit Bendera, Kuil Kek Lok Si dan Empangan Air Itam – semuanya melebihi 50 tahun dengan kepentingan budaya dan sejarah – akan terjejas oleh PIL.

PIL, lebuh raya bertingkat dengan enam lorong, akan memusnahkan sepenuhnya keindahan pemandangan kerana ia akan menjadi suatu pandangan yang menyakitkan mata, dengan kesan sampingan terhadap taman yang hijau dan hutan bukit bukau.

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Pelan lebuh raya ini akan menjadikan sungai seperti terusan sedangkan di seluruh dunia kota rayanya berusaha untuk mengekalkan aliran sungai secara semula jadi.

Sebagai tambahan, laporan EIA juga tidak menangani penggunaan dua taman rekreasi terkenal iaitu Taman Belia dan Taman Jajar, di laluan lebuh raya bertingkat itu. Pengguna taman rekreasi itu termasuk kanak-kanak akan terdedah kepada paras pencemaran bunyi yang melebihi 75dB (saranan maksimum 60dB) dan meningkatkan pencemaran udara.

Tiada langkah pencegahan yang akan menangani bagaimana ciri-ciri pulau ini akan berubah; dengan lebuh raya bertingkat ini sudah tentu ia akan menjadi amat hodoh.

Kami amat terkejut apabila kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang enggan untuk mendengar sebahagian besar penduduk Pulau Pinang yang mengkaji EIA dan yang telah memberikan maklum balas serta ulasan.

Kami mengulangi gesaan kami kepada kerajaan supaya menyiarkan 56 syarat yang dikenakan oleh JAS. Memandangkan bantahan ramai terhadap PIL adalah penting bagi kerajaan negeri untuk tidak menyembunyikan syarat bagi kelulusan. (Editor: Syarat ini telah disiarkan selepas kenyataan ini dikeluarkan.)

English version

CAP and SAM upset over EIA approval for Pan Island Link

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are very upset by the Penang chief minister’s announcement on 15 April that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Pan Island Link (PIL) has been approved by the Department of Environment (DoE) with 56 conditions.

We are also shocked that the DoE has approved the EIA despite the public feedback.

We were among many thousands of Penangites and groups who had voiced our deep concerns over the EIA, which had many flaws.

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We totally disagree with the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who claims that the EIA approval marks a milestone in addressing the traffic woes in Penang.

The PIL is not a long-term solution to our traffic problems. The EIA report claimed that there would be a dramatic reduction in travel time, but it ignored its own traffic analysis that full capacity would be reached by 2030.

To spend a RM8bn for this road is a colossal waste of public resources when it is not a long-term solution for our traffic woes.

Moreover, we had also pointed out that the EIA report wrongly claimed that no heritage structures would be affected. This is not true as the Phor Tay Buddhist School, the St Nicholas’ Home, the Penang Chinese Girls’ High School, the Shree Muniswarar Temple, the iconic Penang Hill railway, the Kek Lok Si Temple and the Air Itam Dam – all over 50 years old with cultural and historical significance – will be adversely affected by the PIL.

The PIL, an elevated 6-lane highway, will completely ruin the Island’s charm as it will be a sight for sore eyes, with an adverse visual impact over green parks and forested hills.

The highway plans to canalise and straighten rivers, whereas globally, cities are trying to restore natural river flows.

In addition, the EIA report also did not address the heavy use of two popular recreational parks, the Youth Park and the Sungai Ara Linear Park, in the route of the elevated highway. Recreational users including children will be subjected to noise levels exceeding 75dB (the recommended maximum is 60dB) and increased air pollutants.

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No amount of mitigation measures will address how the character of the Island will be changed, with such an elevated highway, which will certainly be very ugly.

We are totally shocked that the Penang state Ggovernment has refused to listen to a large section of the Penang public who had studied the EIA and given informed feedback and comments.

We reiterate our call to the Penang government not to proceed with the PIL despite its conditional EIA approval.

We also demand that the government release the 56 conditions imposed by the DOE (Editor: the information has since been released). Given the huge public outcry over the PIL, it is imperative that the state government not hide the conditions for approval.

SM Mohamed Idris is president of CAP and SAM.

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Megat Sharifudin

What ideas do CAP and SAM hv to offer to manage the traffic woes of Penang