Thursday, August 26, 2021

Chunky Chubby C11bye Fei-Lo's Raptor-ish dream of eff-ing up Penang water supply coming true

'Kulim airport project could jeopardise Penang water supply'

The Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) has cautioned against the Kulim International Airport (KXP) project, as it may jeopardise water supply to Penang.

PBAPP said an environmental impact assessment of the proposed project shows it may contaminate Sungai Muda, which supplies water to South Kedah and neighbouring Penang.

"PBAPP does not begrudge Kedah's ambition to pursue a new international airport project that is expected to bring in about RM3.8 billion in private investment, and this amount is expected to be injected into the local economy by the provision of jobs and infrastructure.

"However, an airport cannot be built in a location that places water supply services in Penang and South Kedah at high risk, now and in the future.

"It would be prudent to relocate this massive project to a safer place, away from the banks of Sungai Muda, the primary raw water resource for Penang and South Kedah," PBAPP chief executive officer Jaseni Maidinsa (above) said in a statement on Monday.

On Aug 2, the Kedah government signed a joint venture agreement with ECK Group to build the KXP (above, an artist's impression) by 2026.

The first phase of construction would cost RM6 billion including the cost of land acquisition.

'Penang govt and PBAPP not consulted'

According to the EIA, the project on 3,982ha of land consists of several parts - the airport and airport city, an aerotropolis (a business and industrial park), an aerospace and logistical hub, and other developments including roads and flood mitigation.

The project will be located adjacent to two sections of the riverbanks of Sungai Muda, a primary source of water for South Kedah and Penang since 1974.

He said more than 80 percent of Penang's daily water needs comes from an intake point in Seberang Prai, which is about six kilometres downstream from the KXP project site.

"As such, a massive development project along the banks of Sungai Muda must not endanger or jeopardise 24/7 water supply services that support the well-being of 1.78 million people and thousands of businesses that operate in Penang," Jaseni said.

He said the Penang government and PBAPP have not been consulted over the KXP project.

An artist's impression of the proposed Kulim International Airport.

However, the Department of Environment did consult the PBAPP in July regarding a plant located along the banks of Sungai Muda.

To this, the PBAPP told the DOE that contamination of Sungai Muda by the operations of the proposed plant could have "severe repercussions".

It would force PBAPP to stop pumping water from the Lahar Tiang, Seberang Perai intake point, causing water disruption to more than a million Penang residents, he said.

Water woes between Kedah and Penang

Water supply has been a sticking point between the Penang and Kedah governments, with Kedah wanting to carry out a water retention project along Sungai Muda, which could choke supply to Penang.

Kedah said the project was meant to conserve water for paddy irrigation in the state during the drought.

In March, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang is considering taking the Kedah government to court over the matter.

Although the PBAPP intake point is within the Penang border, the river is supplied by a water catchment area in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah.

In May, Kedah sought compensation from the federal government to conserve the Ulu Muda water catchment area.

This is because conserving the forest reserve means forgoing potential revenue for the state.

At the time, PBAPP said it supported the Kedah government's action to seek compensation from the federal government for conserving the Ulu Muda water catchment area.

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