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EIA without consultation upsets Sepa
Published on: Saturday, January 17, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) expressed disappointment that the EIA for the proposed Shrimp Aquaculture Project at Sungai Telaga, Pitas has been approved without further consultation with the EIA review panel members.Sepa President Lanash Thanda said the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) had set a precedent with an undermining effect on the entire EIA review process in Sabah.

In a press conference here, she said Sepa was one of the panel members of the EIA review committee of the proposed project chaired by EPD Director, Datuk Yabi Yangkat on June 5 last year that rejected the EIA report.

However, Sepa was surprised to see Yabi's press statement that the EIA report was approved on Dec 19, 2014 after additional important information had been included that was re-submitted to EPD on June 24.

Lanash was also surprised to read the director's statement that the decision was made to enable the project proponent through their EIA consultant to submit additional information.

"Sepa is indeed surprised by this statement, as Sepa recalls no such decision being made at the meeting to allow the project proponent to submit additional information.

"With no further communication by EPD to Sepa on the status of the rejected EIA, it was fair for SEPA to maintain the belief that the rejected EIA remained rejected.

"It is based on this honest belief of the events that took place on June 5, 2014 that Sepa made the statement that appeared on Jan 12, 2015 in the newspapers that the project was forging ahead without EIA approval.

"In fact, prior to issuing that statement, Sepa made the additional effort to refer to the EPD website and found no indication that the EIA was approved," she said.

"In light of the new revelations by the EPD that the EIA was in fact approved, we call upon the EPD to share with the Review Panel and the public the additional information that was received by EPD on the June 24, 2014 as stated by the Director.

"We are as a Review Panel member are very anxious to see how adequately the many technical issues and limitations in the EIA report that was raised by the members are addressed," she said.

She said Sepa would like to emphasise that it had always acted in good faith and with sincerity.

"Sepa is made up of members who are volunteers to safeguard all our children's future by ensuring that Sabah has a healthy, thriving environment for generations to come," she said.

Also on hand were Harjinder Kler (vice president), Julia Hwong (secretary), Margaret Chin (legal adviser) and committee members, Alice Mathew.

Yabi was reported as saying that the EPD found the issues and concerns by members of the EIA Review Panel have been satisfactorily explained and addressed, the information given were sufficient and the proposed mitigation measures and monitoring programme updated and found to be appropriate, realistic and sufficient for EPD to formulate the Agreement of Environmental Conditions after it was resubmitted on June 24, 2014.

"Hence, the EIA Report was approved on Dec 19 2014," he said, adding that the EIA approval conditions for this project among others include mitigation measures for wildlife corridor, riparian reserve, mangrove buffer zone and rehabilitation of certain disturbed mangrove areas.

Besides the EIA approval conditions, the Land and Survey Department has also stated a special Terms and Conditions in the land approval conditions which included the provision of 100 meter riparian zone.

Violation to this specific condition is an offence under the Sabah Land Ordinance (Cap. 68), he said.





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