Home News Featured News JTC issues stop-work order on contractor that ‘erroneously’ cleared Kranji woodlands

JTC issues stop-work order on contractor that ‘erroneously’ cleared Kranji woodlands

JTC discovered illegal forest clearing last month, more than a month before the images went viral

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Singapore – The contractor that “erroneously” cleared a forested area at Kranji has announced it has been issued a stop-work order by JTC and is assisting the developer with investigations on the issue.

On Feb 16, state-owned industrial property developer JTC responded to viral social media posts highlighting a cleared forested area in Kranji, admitting its contractor had deforested some of the land “erroneously.”

According to a todayonline.com report, JTC had made the discovery on Jan 13, which was more than a month before the images showing the clearance of land surrounding Kranji Road and Kranji Close had gone viral.

The news sparked a backlash among the online community. Nature enthusiast Brice Li posted photos on Facebook showing the scene before and after the mistake.

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Photo: FB screengrab/Brice Li

There are about 47 species of birds within the area.

JTC said that the area was earmarked for developing the Agri-Food Innovation Park, which is part of the Sungei Kadut Eco-District. It had hired contracting firm Huationg Global Limited for the project, which will cover 18 ha, an area as big as about 33 football fields.

In line with preparations to develop the agri-food innovation park, JTC hired an environmental specialist to carry out a biodiversity baseline study in December last year. The specialist was tasked to work out an environmental monitoring and management plan (EMMP) for specified plots of land within the area, the report noted.

However, JTC discovered on Jan 13 that Huationg had “erroneously begun clearing some of the specified plots of land” before the completion of the baseline study and EMMP, which are scheduled to be completed in April.

JTC then ordered the firm to stop all clearing works immediately. “Since then, no further clearing has taken place on-site, and the contractor has been issued a stern warning,” said JTC. The developer added it takes a “very serious view of the incident” as it has always been committed to protecting the environment when developing industrial land.

On Friday (Feb 19), Huationg released a statement “responding to news articles” confirming they had been issued a stop-work order by JTC on Jan 13. The press release also noted Huationg is currently assisting JTC in investigations in connection with the incident.

As a result, the firm is expecting delays in the completion of the agri-food innovation park. “As investigations are ongoing, the Group is currently unable to assess whether the above matters would have a material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and the earning per share of the Group for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2021,” the press release noted, addressing company shareholders.

The press release did not mention when the forest-clearing started. Although JTC had initially mentioned the clearing had begun in December last year, satellite images of the area revealed that forest-clearing activities had started as early as March 1 last year, reported mothership.sg.

The National Parks Board (NParks) confirmed it was investigating the unauthorised clearance. According to the Parks and Trees Act, it is illegal to fell a tree with a girth exceeding one metre growing on any vacant land, whether within or outside a tree conservation area, without NParks’ approval./TISG

Read related: Protecting Green Spaces: WP’s Leon Perera and PSP’s Leong Mun Wai

Protecting Green Spaces: WP’s Leon Perera and PSP’s Leong Mun Wai

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