Activists call for freeze on Melaka Gateway project
ECOMY urges state and federal government agencies to protect coastlines and follow environmental laws.
PETALING JAYA: Activists have raised a stink over the absence of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before land was reclaimed for the Melaka Gateway project.
EcoMy CEO Andrew Sebastian said the local authority should, before any more damage could be done, issue an immediate stop-work order until the mandatory EIA had been carried out and the findings reported.
On Aug 8, environment and water minister Tuan Ibrahim Man told the Dewan Rakyat the 553ha project had yet to obtain an EIA. He was responding to a question from Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong.
Khoo had previously called for a halt to the project until an investigation was made into the status of its EIA report.
Sebastian told FMT the Melaka authorities and the department of environment (DOE) should reveal the progress of the reclamation so far.
He said it was strange that the project was being carried out under DOE’s nose and asked whether the authority had done any checking.
“A reclamation that large involving precious wetlands and coastal areas carried out without understanding its short and long-term impact as well as coastal erosion is a travesty. This will impact the shores of neighbouring states, too,” he said.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman said the DOE must keep a close watch on reclamation activities and act to stop the “wanton illegality” in Melaka Gateway’s case.
“It is also vital to review and assess the need for such mega projects, especially at a time when the world faces a major recession,” she said.
“All the claims of bringing millions of tourists and jobs are merely false promises which do not make sound economic sense.”
Meenakshi also referred to complaints from fisherfolk and other communities in the area, saying these should not be ignored.
She said it was foolish to disturb the cultural heritage of the Kristang community in the Portuguese settlement on the shore.
“The adverse environmental and social impacts which are already happening due to coastal projects must be assessed,” she said.
Environmentalist Anthony Tan said a social impact study should have been carried out beforehand given the proximity of the reclaimed area to the state capital, which is a Unesco World Heritage city.
He also said the reclamation’s adverse effect on fishing could be felt as far away as Tanjung Keling as the sand dredging activity was along the Melaka coast.
The Melaka Gateway mixed development is supposed to be on four artificial islands with residential, commercial, cultural, entertainment and lifestyle elements. It is envisioned to have the largest private marina in Southeast Asia by 2025.
FMT has contacted Melaka Gateway and state authorities for comment.