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Locals, fishermen will benefit from PSI project, say groups

Locals, fishermen will benefit from PSI project, say groups

Published by TheStar • 27/4/2023

GEORGE TOWN: Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including a fishermen’s group, have welcomed the Penang South Islands (PSI) project following its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval.


Penang Nusa Development Association (Nusa) secretary Nurhafiza Huda Idris said the locals and fishing community would benefit from the development.


“Through this project, local fishermen would benefit from free boats and seafaring courses to help them to catch fish in deep seas. This will increase their daily income with bigger and more powerful boats, besides increasing safety when using newer vessels.


“Free tuition provided to children of fishermen through the project’s Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) is important to provide additional education to them.


“The project will also provide more job opportunities on larger scales to locals and residents, with higher skilled jobs to secure better income.


“Through such development, locals would no longer need to leave their families in search for better jobs elsewhere as it would be available here.


“The approval of the EIA proves that the project is safe and sustainable,” she said in a statement on Thursday (April 27).


Bayan Lepas Fishermen Welfare Association secretary Fajinah Jaafar said the association members had been looking forward to benefiting from the project’s SIMP initiatives.


“The Department of Environment (DOE) has allowed for all stakeholders and agencies involved to be heard.


“For years, we have been waiting for PSI to begin,” she said.


On Wednesday (April 26), Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced that the PSI project, involving the development of three man-made islands in the waters off Permatang Damar Laut near Bayan Lepas, had obtained its EIA approval from the DOE under the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.


He said the state secretary had received the approval letter dated April 11, which came with 71 conditions to be fulfilled, including the need for the Social Impact Management Plan and PSI Ecology Offset Masterplan.


Meanwhile, the Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC), as the state’s special purpose vehicle to implement the PSI project, reiterated that the project would be a vital sustainable strategy to secure the future of Penang and well-being of its people.


“PSI is the state government’s strategy to make Penang’s economy more resilient for future generations while prioritising environmental sustainability.


“At the centre of the first island or known as Island A is the new 700-acre Green Tech Park designed for high-tech industries of the future.


“The development will drive the creation of over 460,000 jobs and generate a forecast GDP of RM2.2 trillion in a 30-year time frame.


“The design of the PSI project, which will be developed with a Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF) during its topside development phase, has exceeded the emissions reduction of 40% as advised by the National Planning Council (MPFN).


“It garnered the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) accreditation on Feb 20 this year at 45% emissions reduction by 2050,” said the statement.


“Further measures that will be implemented include the mandate of the Green Building Index (GBI) certification for the development of individual plots.


“Within the GBI criteria, scores will be imposed on aspects related to green building materials, energy and resource-efficient fittings and fixtures, greenery as well as design innovations to reduce the building’s carbon footprint,” it said.


It added that concerns about the fisheries and the fate of fishermen have been addressed many times over the years.


“We would like to reiterate that the fishermen of southern Penang Island can still continue to fish during and after the reclamation.


“The project’s implementation will not prevent them from fishing and the usual fishing grounds for fishermen in the area are located beyond the reclamation site.


“Our three fishermen engagement centres known as Pusat Perkhidmatan Setempat Nelayan (PPSN) operating at the site are in constant contact with the fishermen and provide various assistance to them.


“Recently, we have also helped some 40 fishermen with their insurance and licence renewal to continue fishing after they faced difficulties renewing them,” said the statement.


PIC said the state would continue to implement the SIMP initiatives, which benefits fishermen from nine fishermen units in southern Penang Island.


“Some of the benefits are in the form of new larger boats and more powerful engines, financial aid, skills training, job and business opportunities, new jetties and even education support programmes for their children.


“The PSI Ecology Offset Master Plan (PEOM), which features initiatives such as mangrove planting, deployment of artificial reefs and release of fish and shrimp fries, will also be implemented to mitigate the project’s impact on the environment and create new habitats for marine life.


“Both the SIMP and PEOM are part of the condition in the EIA approval,” it said.


The Penang government submitted a fresh EIA report on April 29 last year after an earlier one was rejected by the DOE appeal board due to a technical issue.


The rejection was because the Penang Structure Plan 2030, which includes the three man-made islands, was not gazetted then.


SRS Consortium is the state’s project delivery partner in the Penang Transport Master Plan, a multibillion-ringgit project encompassing extensive public transport infrastructure and road systems.


PSI was originally designed to fund part of the master plan, which includes the Pan Island Link and Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit.


The mega project off the southern coast of Penang island involves the reclamation and development of three islands covering 1,820ha comprising Island A (930ha), Island B (566ha) and Island C (324ha).


In the past, several politicians on both sides of the divide had objected to the project, arguing that it could affect the livelihood of fishermen in the area.


The magnitude of the reclamation also worried NGOs and environmental activists, who decried the project’s possible impact on the marine environment and fishermen, despite explanations and assurances by the state government.

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