Punggol Reclamation

In 1983, the government announced that it would undertake a reclamation project in which 277 ha of land would be reclaimed over the next three years at a cost of $136 million. The Straits Times reported on 5 March 1983 that the reclaimed land would be used for certain industrial and agricultural activities at first, but would eventually be supplanted by flats supplanted by flats developed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The report also stated that the reclaimed soil would come from Tampines, the granite quarry at Pulau Ubin, and dredging the seabed off Punggol.

The Northeastern Coast Reclamation Project
In October 1984, Parliament approved yet another reclamation scheme for Punggol, this time a massive project known as the Northeastern Coast Reclamation Scheme. The scheme would reclaim 875 ha of shallow foreshore and swampland at the northeastern coast of Singapore from Pasir Ris to Jalan Kayu (including Punggol). Costing $874 million, the project was undertaken by the HDB, which served as an agent for the Ministry of National Development (MND) in executing the project. The reclamation was to be implemented in four phases lasting a period of nine years (1985-1993). An HDB study estimated the amount of soil needed for the reclamation to be approximately 76 million cubic metres, half of which was to be obtained from HDB development sites and the other half imported. The bulk of the newly reclaimed land was reserved for the construction of flats while the remaining portion was set aside for refuse tipping, as well as industrial and recreational purposes.

Phases I and II of the project were completed by the end of March 1990. The third phase, scheduled to run from April 1988 till the end of 1990, was part of the development of Punggol New Town. The fourth phase was supposed to commence in 1990, but was deferred as the North-Eastern Sector landuse concept plan was not finalised yet. Part of the Punggol 21 development plan, the last phase involved reclaiming 155 ha of foreshore between Punggol and Coney Island (also known as Pulau Serangoon) at an estimated cost of $320 million. Under the plan, Coney Island was to be enlarged and the land off Punggol extended narrowing the channel (referred to as "river") between them to at least 100 m wide. The 2.5 km long river would have vertical seawalls on both sides.

Environmental effects
A three-year annual study (1998-2000) on the effects of coastal reclamation at Sungei Punggol on macrobenthic community (referring to organisms living on, in, or near the river bed or benthic zone) revealed that the family number and abundance of macrobenthos increased significantly away from the reclaimed areas. Besides the obliteration of the swamps on the mainland, environmentalists were also concerned over the gradual loss of flora and fauna on Coney Island. For instance, in 1998, Dr Ho Hua Chew, who heads the conservation committee of the Nature Society (Singapore), expressed concern over the impact of urbanisation on the 30-odd species of birds that inhabited the island.

By Marsita Omar & Alex Ong
26 Nov 2007

Extract of article published on Singapore Infopedia!
National Library Board 2008.

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