The state government has assured that two popular parks in Penang will not be affected by the construction of the Pan-Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway, a component of the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project.
In saying this, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow also blasted the use of "self-created" pictures by certain parties to misrepresent the project.
Chow, who is state transport, information, land matters and land development committee chairperson, said such images created unnecessary anxiety among the public.
"Such practices are unhealthy and should not be encouraged as it will lead to an undesired negative perception among the public," said Chow in a statement today.
He urged the public not to be "unduly influenced by incorrect information" shared on social media and news websites or blog portals.
In his statement, Chow also provided the "correct visual" used to describe the cable-stayed bridge in Youth Park within the PIL 1 Environmental Impact Assessment report which is on public display until Aug 10.
Chow said during the PIL1 construction at Youth Park, the area will still be open to public and park-goers will still be able to enjoy the area.
"Access to the Youth Park will not be affected and park-goers will not be affected by construction activities as these will take place within the cordoned area," Chow assured.
"The location where the pier construction takes place will be fully cordoned off to ensure public safety," he added.
In his statement, Chow also shared an artist impression of the cross-section view of the cable-stayed bridge at the Youth Park showing the height of the piers above the trees and greenery in the park.
Chow was responding to concerns raised by local NGOs over the construction of the highway, with environmental NGO Penang Forum warning that with the PIL1, the Youth Park will see a huge cable-stayed bridge with six lanes.
The NGO claimed the diagrams, which it posted on its Facebook page, are from the EIA report.
Blogger and activist Anil Netto also posted about "a groundswell of protest" against what he described as an “extravagant plan for an RM8 billion, 19.5km six-lane highway.
He said the plan will mar the beauty and tranquillity of the Sungai Ara Linear Park and the Penang Youth Park and affect hundreds of homes and businesses on the island.
Concerned individuals have also started an online petition to call for the cancellation of the PIL 1 with some 2,650 signatures collected since the campaign was launched last week.
Meanwhile, Chow said his administration will look into concerns of park-goers at the Sungai Ara Linear Park.
Among the alternatives that are currently being looked into include reducing the number of piers, park beautification and the upgrading of the park with new amenities in consultation with local residents and the local council, Chow said.
He said other proposed mitigation measures such as noise barriers and a proposed pier height of up to a maximum of 15m (five storeys) will not impose major undue discomfort for park-goers.
Chow noted that for the environmentally sensitive area of Penang Hill, a detailed study had been carried out to convert the earlier proposed viaduct design into a tunnel.
This is to avoid impact to the Penang Hill Special Area Plan which took effect on Sept 1, 2016, he added.
"As a result of the alignment change at Penang Hill, there will be no exposed part of the highway seen at Penang Hill.
"The existing Penang Hill Special Area Plan is not expected to be affected in any apparent way with the new tunnel alignment, including the funicular railway," Chow said.
"Controlled blasting carried out at environmentally sensitive areas will be done under strict noise and vibration monitoring with ground surveillance during the entire process," he added.
"The public should not be apprehensive of the proposed underground construction as the advancement of tunnelling technology today has enabled the potential effects of noise and vibration to be brought to a minimal," Chow stressed.