SINGAPORE — Large areas of Kranji woodland were "erroneously" cleared by a JTC contractor before the completion of environmental assessments, as aerial photos of the razed land emerged on social media on Sunday (14 February).
The Straits Times reported on Wednesday that the National Parks Board (NParks) is investigating the unauthorised clearance at the site.
A JTC Corporation spokesman also told the newspaper on Tuesday that the land was cleared by one of its contractors, Huationg.
According to The Straits Times, JTC had discovered the mistake during a site inspection on 13 January. It then instructed Huationg to stop all clearing works immediately. The contractor has been issued a stern warning.
Site slated for Agri-Food Innovation Park
The site was slated for the Agri-Food Innovation Park, which is part of the Sungei Kadut Eco-District, which seeks to support new growth sectors such as agri-tech and environment technology. Since the end of December last year, green patches have been cleared on the site.
Development projects in Singapore near sensitive nature areas are subject to greater scrutiny and may be required to carry out more detailed environmental studies.
JTC told The Straits Times that it had engaged an environmental specialist to conduct a biodiversity baseline study last December, to create an environmental monitoring and management plan (EMMP) for specified plots of land within the area.
These were expected to be completed around April before plans to engage stakeholders.
According to The Straits Times, Huationg released a statement apologising for its action, and added that it is working with JTC to determine the cause of the lapse.
Nature community shocked by 'dreadful development'
Members of the nature community in Singapore were shocked by the clearing of the land, which sits on a 70ha woodland that is home to around 40 species of birds.
The Nature Society (Singapore) commented in a post on its Facebook page that this was a "shocking and dreadful development".
Its conservation committee chairman Leong Kwok Peng told The Straits Times, "We lost a sizeable natural habitat and a picturesque space for hikers along the northern sector of the rail corridor."
Environmental consultant Tony O'Dempsey told the newspaper that while he is confident that whatever damage to the woodland can be restored, it may take over a decade to do so.
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