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Sunday, January 8, 2017

A river of nothing

Each time floods hit bad, money is promised to build bridges and dams, and then what happens, asks Jagdeep Singh Deo.
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GEORGE TOWN: Kelantan was promised a RM3 billion dam two years ago to control floods. Nothing happened, says Penang lawmaker Jagdeep Singh Deo, so he wants to know if the Sungai Pinang flood relief project will get its money.
“Deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in the news that RM800 million in flood mitigation funds had been approved for Kelantan last week. I want to ask if the projects will be executed.
“Funds had been announced before like the RM3 billion dam project. There must be execution. Announcements don’t solve floods,” he said in a press conference here this morning.
It was reported earlier this morning that Kelantan recorded almost 4,700 flood victims as of 8am today.
Jagdeep, who is also a state executive councillor, asked the federal government if the RM150 million funds for the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project in Penang would come.
“Although the funds had been committed, going by the Kelantan example, I have my concerns.”
Sungai Pinang is the main river on Penang island and has been the cause of floods in the surrounding areas such as Datuk Keramat, for which Jagdeep is the assemblyman.
He said the total amount asked from the federal government for the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project, which was in its third phase, was RM600 million — half to go to treating the river to improve its water quality.
“Something is better than nothing. We hope the money comes,” he said.
Jagdeep also said he had proposed the building of a barrage — an artificial barrier across a river or estuary to prevent flooding and aid irrigation — in the flood mitigation project.
He said a barrage was important to prevent floods during heavy rain and high tide.
When contacted about whether the RM150 million had been channelled to Penang, state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Sabri Abdul Mulok said the federal government would be undertaking the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project itself.
“The federal government will see to the detailed designs of the project and other works. The state DID may just supervise the project.
“Sometime in the third quarter of this year, the project will be called for tender,” he said. -FMT

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