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Johor Straits land reclamation project to be amended: Reports

JOHOR BARU — Several major amendments to the massive reclamation project in the Strait of Johor for a housing development near Singapore’s Second Link are expected, following concerns raised by Singapore and environmental non-government organisations (NGOs), the New Straits Times (NST) reported yesterday.

Reclamation work off the Strait of Johor for Malaysia’s Forest City project. The proposed changes in the preliminary report include replanting seagrass and building two parallel water channels across the reclaimed island. TODAY FILE PHOTO

Reclamation work off the Strait of Johor for Malaysia’s Forest City project. The proposed changes in the preliminary report include replanting seagrass and building two parallel water channels across the reclaimed island. TODAY FILE PHOTO

JOHOR BARU — Several major amendments to the massive reclamation project in the Strait of Johor for a housing development near Singapore’s Second Link are expected, following concerns raised by Singapore and environmental non-government organisations (NGOs), the New Straits Times (NST) reported yesterday.

The changes were reportedly proposed by Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Environmental Solutions (AES), which had been appointed to prepare a preliminary environmental impact assessment report by Country Garden, the developer of the project.

The proposed changes in the preliminary report include replanting seagrass and building two parallel water channels, which will be 300m wide and almost in the shape of a right-angle isosceles triangle, across the reclaimed island. They are aimed at minimising the impact of the project on the surrounding environment, the NST reported.

“The main purpose of the water channel is to improve the hydrology of the straits, since there are concerns and worries that the reclaimed island may block or hamper water flow along it,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed source close to the AES as saying.

“With the water channels to be used as a mitigation measure, water flow is still possible, despite the presence of the reclaimed island,” the source added.

Another proposal was to replant seagrass destroyed in the process of reclamation work.

But environmental NGOs in Malaysia doubted that the replanting would be effective, noting that the survival rate of seagrass replanting was 10 per cent, the NST reported.

Last week, the local media reported that Malaysia’s Department of Environment had issued a stop-work order on the massive land reclamation project, pending further studies on its environmental impact.

Singapore had earlier expressed concerns about the possible transboundary impact from the reclamation work in the Strait of Johor and requested more information from the Malaysian government.

Malaysia media reports had said that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also wrote to his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the issue, after two diplomatic notes on the matter were sent to Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry in May.

A third note was handed to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr Wahid Omar, when he visited Singapore recently, the reports said.

The Forest City project involves creating a 1,817-hectare island almost three times the size of Ang Mo Kio and the construction of luxury homes. The project, which includes a 49ha tourist hub and recreational facilities, is expected to take 30 years to complete.

Earlier reports had said the reclamation work for the tourist hub began in early March and was expected to be completed by the end of the year. AGENCIES

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