Sahabat Alam Malaysia welcomes the decision made by the Department of Environment (DoE) to issue a stop-work order to the developer of a coastal reclamation project dubbed “The Dubai of Malaysia” in Kuala Kedah .
The DoE director general had confirmed to the media that the order was issued through a notice dated 15 May 2017. SAM had brought up this matter with the DoE in mid-March 2017 after we discovered that the reclamation work in Kuala Kedah had started although the EIA was still being displayed for public review.
The Kedah State Government as the landowner in this project should have adhered to environmental laws and not start the project before getting all approval including from the DoE. We hope that the action by the DoE serves as a lesson for other project proponents and developers.
We now call upon the DoE to reject the EIA of the project. The EIA states that mitigation measures will be undertaken “to ensure that the marine resources are not affected with reclamation activities”. This is meaningless and futile action as the project will result in total loss of mudflats and mangroves in the project site.
In addition to threatening the fishery resources in the waters off Kuala Kedah and adversely affecting the livelihoods of fishermen here, themangroves here that are breeding grounds of marine life will be permanently destroyed.
The mudflat habitat here also serve as source of nutrients for fish for a much larger area. Since the estimated 5.6 hectares of mudflat habitat that would be lost because of the proposed reclamation project here serves as a source of nutrients for fish (consistent with the interlinking nature of food webs in the marine environment), other fish species would be affected as well.
There is definitely significant impacts to the environment arising from this reclamation project, specifically the coastal and marine environment, marine resources and coastal birds.
Due consideration should also be given to the socio-economic impacts of the coastal communities who will lose their source of livelihood, and thus further marginalizing the poor and coastal communities. The coastal communities here, in particular the fisher communities have raised their objections to the State but to no avail.
We call upon the DoE to reject the EIA of the proposed reclamation project because all the impacts of the project have not been dealt with adequately in the EIA. The EIA consultant should also be made liable as it is confirmed that the project had started prior to obtaining approval of the EIA.
S.M. MOHAMED IDRIS