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Work near Second Link 'has stopped'

JOHOR'S Cabinet minister for the environment Ayub Rahmat said the Chinese developer of a controversial reclamation project in the Johor Strait voluntarily stopped work about a week ago, pending studies on its environmental impact.

Posted on 25-Jun-2014

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Work near Second Link 'has stopped'

JOHOR'S Cabinet minister for the environment Ayub Rahmat said the Chinese developer of a controversial reclamation project in the Johor Strait voluntarily stopped work about a week ago, pending studies on its environmental impact.

Singapore has expressed its concern over the Forest City project in diplomatic notes to Putrajaya, asking it for more details so it could study the possible impact on the Republic and the strait.

"The developers voluntarily stopped the project about a week ago," he told The Straits Times yesterday, saying the works could restart only when the authorities are satisfied that its environmental impact would be mitigated.

The 2,000ha project near the Second Link, on the Malaysian side of the border, is being developed by China's Country Garden Holdings and a Johor state company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor.

The project, which is to be carried out over 30 years, has raised concerns over its environmental impact, including its effect on nearby mangrove swamps, marine animals and the flow of water in the narrow Johor Strait.

Work on a 49ha plot of reclaimed land as part of Forest City started in March, with plans for a tourist hub, an 80-room hotel and recreational facilities, the New Straits Times newspaper reported yesterday.

Datuk Ayub, Johor's State Health and Environment Committee chairman, said that while the reclamation is less than 50ha, the developers have to submit environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies because they planned to build the 80-room hotel on the man-made island, thus increasing its density.

A report in The Edge Review online magazine last month said the Forest City project promoters had planned to divide the 2,000ha project - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio estate - into smaller plots of 50ha to avoid having to submit EIA reports. Malaysian environmentalists have expressed concerns over the consequences of the project, pointing out that the area is home to mangroves, sea-horses and dugongs.

Mr Ayub said all development projects will impact the surrounding environment, and the developers thus have to provide details about how they would mitigate the effect while the project is being carried out, and also how the area would be rehabilitated after the project is completed.

The Johor state government would monitor further discussions between the project developers and the Department of Environment, he said.

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