The Department of Environment (DOE) has issued a stop-work order on the RM1.2 billion mixed development Aman Laut development project in Kuala Kedah.
Dubbed "The Dubai of Malaysia", the project comprises high-end bungalows, chic condominiums, malls and luxury eateries.
DOE director-general Ahmad Kamarulnajib Che Ibrahim confirmed that his department had issued the order through a notice dated May 15.
Despite having yet to obtain DOE's approval, workers had started reclamation works at the site, Kamarulnajib was quoted as saying by The Star.
“This is in accordance with Section 34AA (2) of the Malaysian Quality Environmental Act 1974 (Amended) 2012 that no work can be carried out prior to getting the approval of the department.
“Only after it has been approved can work be carried out,” added Kamarulnajib.
The project, which was said to transform the skyline of Kuala Kedah fishing town and elevate its residential and business standards, had faced protests from NGOs and about 1,000 fishermen.
A Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) survey found that an area - a distance of about 1km out to sea - had been reclaimed and nearly 10ha of mangroves along the coast had been affected.
Meanwhile, Kedah environment committee chairperson Leong Yong Long said the decision made by the federal department was temporary until further notice and was done to protect the coastal and sea environments in the area.
“This is also for the developer to comply with the pre-requirement of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report before proceeding with the project.
“The Kedah government is equally concerned about the EIA and has no objection to the ministerial action pending a full EIA report,” said Leong.
“However, there is some work still going on at the site on the mainland which had already been approved by local authorities.
“This should not be misconstrued as defiance of the stop-work order by the department or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment,” he added.
Kedah Housing, as well as Local Government and Water Resources Committee chairperson Badrol Hisham Hashim said they would speak to the developers and ask them to resubmit the EIA report.