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Farmers hope to overturn govt's plans to stockpile granite at Lim Chu Kang

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
16 August 2007

SINGAPORE : Plans to stockpile granite at Lim Chu Kang are not going down well with some farmers there.

And they are trying to see how they could overturn government plans to use the area as a granite stockpile site.

Storing granite at Lim Chu Kang is part of the government's strategy to ensure that there is an adequate supply of essential building materials.

It also serves to tide the industry over in the short term, as shown by the recent disruption in supply after Indonesia banned granite exports to Singapore.

A high fence has been erected around the granite stockpile site between Lim Chu Kang Lane 1 and Neo Tiew Road.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said the fencing is one way to reduce dust from stockpiling work over the next 12 months.

While farmers agree such measures will help, they are worried about the possible impact on their crops, especially those located within 200 metres of the site.

Some of the 200 farms in the area sell their produce to local supermarkets.

"You can't control the elements, the wind can carry the dust for many kilometres. The dust settles on the vegetables, and will this have an impact on consumers? We don't know. And it could also harm the environment," said Alan Toh, MD of Yili Vegetation & Trading.

But according to the BCA, due care will be taken to mitigate any negative impact on the environment.

This includes having designated routes for trucks and adequate drainage to discharge rainwater into existing drainage channels.

The farmers are also concerned about the heavy vehicles that would be plying the roads once stockpiling begins.

They say it will not only cause pollution, but also pose a danger to road users, especially cyclists who ride around the area in the evening.

But BCA told Channel NewsAsia that it would restrict operating hours, and there would be no delivery of granite on weekends and public holidays.

Apart from environmental issues, the Kranji Countryside Association, led by Ivy Singh-Lim said this latest development undermines efforts to promote eco-tourism.

She added that the area, zoned as agricultural land, is also an educational tool.

"For the past three years, a group of us - farmers - created a jewel here, a little gem of a countryside place. And we've been seeing thousands of Singaporeans, especially kids, three-generation families coming out here to bond in the natural area. But this granite dumping is going to destroy the whole spirit of the place," said Ivy Singh-Lim, president of Kranji Countryside Association.

BCA said it has consulted the farmers. But the farmers are not quite satisfied.

BCA added that it has studied possible sites for stockpiling, and Lim Chu Kang was selected as it is away from densely built-up urban areas.

But the farmers hope that stockpiling can be done away from their doorstep. - CNA /ls

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