In the past two weeks, we have been collaborating with the nature community and the wider public to generate a set of questions regarding works on the Cross Island MRT line (CRL). These questions were raised as we feel that information about the monitoring programme and results has not been forthcoming. In the press release dated 8 June 2018, mitigation measures were deemed to be effective based on camera trap photographs of animals such as the Sunda Pangolin and Lesser Mousedeer in the vicinity of the site investigation works. However, without further details on methodology and results of the monitoring programme (beyond the media response dated 28 June 2018), such a conclusion seems stretched.
This set of questions have been submitted to LTA on the 1st July 2018. As the second phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that assesses the potential impacts of constructing the CRL under the CCNR is ongoing, the following questions are both timely and essential as the project proceeds.
Site investigation works monitoring programme
- Was the statement in LTA’s press release concluding that the mitigation measures were effective verified by qualified ecologists and adequate analyses?
- How was the monitoring programme conducted? Is the report detailing the methods used in the environmental monitoring and management programme available for public viewing?
- Were there any documented environmental impacts that occurred during the SI works? For example, were there any associated fauna mortalities/injuries, pollution to surface water bodies such as forest streams, and excessive noise/light levels?
- What were the measures taken if/when such impacts occurred? Were there impact thresholds that determined if works had to be stopped? If yes, what were they?
- How was the impact of trampling during the off-trail works monitored and evaluated?
- Was behavioural assessment of wildlife conducted to verify that wildlife had not been disturbed?
- What are the credentials of the personnel who carried out the monitoring programme?
- Did the monitoring programme adequately monitor impacts on wildlife? How was this adequacy evaluated?
- Who are the relevant stakeholders LTA is working with to analyse the monitoring results?
- When will the full results of the monitoring programme be available for public viewing?
- Was NParks involved in the scoping/implementation of the monitoring programme?
- Were the results of the monitoring programme submitted to NParks?
- Did NParks have a say about how the monitoring was conducted and evaluated?
- Regarding the sighting of the lesser mousedeer, Sunda pangolin and common palm civet, did the frequency and distribution of the records during and after the SI works match that of baseline levels?
- There has been an increased frequency of animal roadkills in the Mandai area, likely attributed to the Mandai rejuvenation project. Was the frequency of roadkills in the vicinity of the CRL SI works monitored? Will this be an issue as the CRL development proceeds?
- What happened to the boreholes that were made in the ground? Were they back-filled or maintained as holes?
- Will the results of the SI works for both alignment options be made public?
Phase II environmental impact assessment and construction of CRL
- What are the possible biodiversity impacts of the construction and operation of the CRL tunnel?
- How will the hydrology be affected by the tunnelling?
- Are there any contingency measures during the construction of the CRL that would require surface works to be conducted in the nature reserve? If yes, what are they?
- Are there any contingency measures during the operations of the CRL that would require surface works to be conducted in the nature reserve? If yes, what are they? For example, during a train breakdown under the nature reserve, how would passengers be evacuated? Will there be escape routes constructed within the nature reserve?
- How will LTA study the impact of vibration on the wildlife within the nature reserve?
- Will the Phase II EIA report be made public?
- What are the measures that will be implemented to prevent impact to wildlife during the construction of the CRL, if it occurs within or in the vicinity of the nature reserve?
- Will LTA be conducting any studies/simulation tests to determine the effects of boring a large tunnel under the nature reserve (with reference to the collapse of graves at Bukit Brown Cemetery during the construction of the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line)?
- What are the factors involved in making the decision about the alignment of the CRL?
- Do ecological, financial, social and engineering considerations have equal weight in making the decision about the alignment of the CRL?
- What are the reasons affecting the feasibility of constructing the CRL to skirt around the CCNR? How are these reasons weighed against ensuring the sanctity of the nature reserve?
- Are there steps taken to ensure that the construction of the CRL, if it passes under the nature reserve, does not serve as a precedent for more construction work to be done in the nature reserves in future?
- Nature reserves are areas set aside for the long-term conservation of natural habitats and biodiversity in Singapore and are conserved under the Parks and Trees Act. They are afforded the strictest of legal protection among all types of green areas in Singapore. If the Act does not forbid developments such as the CRL within nature reserves, does this mean that the nature reserves are not off-limits to other/future developments as well?