Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A jewel that needs to be protected

Don't destroy Ubin in the name of development
Letter from Maryanne Maes
Today Online
11 Apr 07

I refer to the report, "Old Ubin quarry may be up and running" (April 10).

It has come down to another age-old tussle in Singapore, between economic development and the natural environment.

I discovered the joys of Pulau Ubin only two years ago. One may not find much on this tiny island, except for some restaurants, bicycle shops, camp sites and a whole lot of nature. Nature is what draws visitors to the island, it is Singapore's jewel to locals and tourists. This place brings calm and spiritual rejuvenation, away from the city we live in.

There is Chek Jawa — the Nature Society had fought gallantly, a few years ago, against a Ministry of National Development (MND) plan to redevelop that parcel of land. Chek Jawa provides a rich source of mudflat species that feed many birds — including a lone pair of hornbills, among other wildlife that reside peacefully on the island.

I have taken many foreign friends to Ubin and many of them now visit it every other weekend.

The disruption of granite supplies to Singapore should be handled keeping in mind the environmental degradation to Singapore, should the quarry at Pulau Ubin be revived.

Many wildlife species have sought sanctuary around that area ever since the quarry was abandoned. Now that the MND is thinking of reviving the quarry, it could be seen as chasing away residents away from their homes after they have spent many years settling there — without welfare benefits.

Disruptive human activities will always create perpetual ripple effects that will irreversibly damage the environment.

Notwithstanding Singapore's economic development needs, we should be a responsible society.

Environmental impact assessments should be made prior to MND's plans to re-use the quarry, in consultation with nature experts such as the Nature Society and the public, and have the results publicised before MND makes any decision.

Any development on Ubin and the surviving nature parcels in Singapore warrants this move, because any ecological damage to this island will adversely affect tourism.

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