Members of the public looking the preview of the new seafront public park planned for the Gurney Drive foreshore at Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak, Komtar, yesterday. Environmental civil society group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Sam) has opposed the Gurney Drive reclamation as the works to create park will have a devastating impact on Mother Nature. Pix by MIKAIL ONG

GEORGE TOWN: Environmental civil society group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Sam) has opposed the Gurney Drive reclamation as the works to create park will have a devastating impact on Mother Nature.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said while Sam welcomed the rehabilitation of the Gurney Drive foreshore and creation of parks for more greenery, the manner in which it was being done was not acceptable.

“Sourcing of fill material, which includes sand and rocks, for the reclamation is a major issue of concern. To create a park here, you are actually causing devastating impact to the natural environment elsewhere following quarrying and sand-mining or dredging activities to source such fill material,” he said in a statement today.

He said in one part, the state would start “greening the world”, but at the same time depletion of natural resources and environmental destruction is caused elsewhere.

Idris also said the public would not be aware of the implications of such development unless it happens in their own backyard.

“The impact of reclamation and messing with Mother Nature and the natural shape of the island is still not fully understood. Sam has received complaints from the public that the seas along the Tanjung Bungah coast are full of mud in the sea-bed, making it difficult to swim. We are uncertain as to the cause for this but more reclamation of this kind will further damage our sea and beaches,” he said.

Another issue of concern, said Idris, was the creation of the artificial sandy beach as the waterfront development is basically “pieces of artificial nature”.

“We need to understand why in the first place the foreshore of Gurney Drive became muddy. It was a sandy beach a few decades ago and thus the source of this problem has to be addressed first.

“Otherwise, maintaining this artificial beach is going to be expensive. Also, there is the issue of sourcing sand for the beach for many, many more years if the foreshore continues to be sedimented,” he said.

The waterfront park will be created on land to be reclaimed by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd (TPD), and will feature a seaside retail food and beverage area, water gardens, a man-made beach and a coastal grove.

Idris is also concerned about reports that the cost of the project will be borne by the state but the administration has yet to announce the cost.

“Surely there can be other ways to improve the Gurney Drive foreshore without a project of this magnitude and implications. We want the natural beauty of Penang, not more of man-made Penang,” he said.

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