GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Federal Action Council has questioned the rationale of the Penang state government in spending RM305 million on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for projects instead of flood mitigation projects which are more urgent for the state.
Its chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman said the amount could have been spent on flood mitigation projects that is more urgent than other projects that require the EIA fees.
“If the same amount has been spent on EIA for non-urgent projects, why can’t the state government spend the same amount to tackle flash floods which need immediate attention?
“Penang needs a Flood Mitigation Master Plan more than it needs a Transport Master Plan as a highway network and land public transport will be useless when they are crippled by the onslaught of floods each time it rains heavily,” said Zainal Abidin in a statement here today.
The action council also demanded to know the amount that has been spent by the Penang state government and the local government to tackle floods in Penang since DAP came into power in 2008.
He pointed out that the federal government has never stopped allocation for flood mitigation projects in Penang even though the state is an Opposition ruled state since 2008, having spent RM2 billion on flood mitigation projects in Penang.
He said that RM1.493 billion was spent through the 10th Malaysia Plan from 2006 to 2010 including RM34 million on cleaning and rehabilitation process of Sungai Pinang and another RM404.5 million through the 11th Malaysia Plan from 2011 to 2015.
He added that an allocation of RM150 million for the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project has been approved in Nov 2016.
“We don’t deny the fact that it used to flood in Penang but it has been happening more frequently now and each time it is cloudy, Penangites will already worry about the impending floods if it rains heavily.
“Penang has seen 23 flash flood incidents in just a span of two years – from 2015 to September 2017 as reported by a daily a few days ago so we welcome the plea by Penang Housing and Flood Mitigation exco Jagdeep Singh Deo for the state and federal governments to work together to tackle the problem.
“We also thank Jagdeep for having the realisation that finger-pointing by the Penang state government for its own failure to tackle the issue and instead push the blame to others will not solve the problem,” he said, pointing out that finger-pointing for the past nine years has not done Penangites any good.
“The Penang state government should not keep blaming the weather and rainfall each time flash floods happen as they should admit there has been over-development in the state with hill slopes being cleared and sea being reclaimed which see places that had never flooded before now immersed in flood waters,” said Zainal Abidin. – MO