Zairil To Nurul Izzah Covid 19 Necessitates Penang Reclamation Project
Penang exco member in charge of infrastructure and transport Zairil Khir Johari said the Penang South Reclamation Project has become even more critical now due to the damage brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to criticisms by Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar over the project, Zairil said independent research suggested that the project will bring investments and jobs needed to help Penang grow.
"Unlike Nurul Izzah, I grew up in Penang, I work in the state and I plan to retire here. Therefore, I want to ensure that we do our best not just for our friends but also for our children.
"Without the Penang South Islands (PSI), I am worried that our children will seek greener pastures elsewhere," Zairil said in a blog post today.
Nurul Izzah, in a lengthy essay yesterday, outlined three main reasons why she opposed the project.
Firstly, she said the 70-30 joint-venture between a private company and the state government was risky; secondly, the Environmental Impact Assessment had warned of permanent environmental damage; and lastly, the livelihoods of fisherfolk in the area were at risk.
Zairil, in turn, provided lengthy rebuttals for all three arguments.
On the risk of a joint-venture project, he explained that SRS Consortium and Gamuda Bhd was bearing all the financing cost and corporate guarantees.
In the event of a default, the company would not be allowed to place a caveat on the reclaimed land, he added.
On allegations that the fisherfolk would be affected, Zairil said that qualified fisherfolk have been offered unprecedented ex gratia payments - in form of cash, boats and new engines - worth almost RM60,000.
They will also benefit from "reskilling" efforts.
"To convince Nurul Izzah, the state government will organise a meeting between her and the fisherfolk who are benefiting from this programme so that she will have an accurate picture," Zairil said.
On concerns over environmental damage, the Tanjong Bunga assemblyperson said under the Social Impact Management Plan for the project, there will be efforts to plant mangrove plants and artificial reefs, release fingerlings and create funding for research in fisheries, reefs and ecology.
He added that the plans for all three PSI islands have incorporated green lungs that will cover 20 percent of the area, along with mangrove and wetlands that will help reduce temperatures. - Mkini
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