betty July 6, 2022

SINGAPORE – JTC has completed its review of its internal processes following the unauthorised clearing of Kranji woodland.

JTC has implemented four measures to strengthen its processes and capabilities in land clearance projects. These were shared on Tuesday (July 5) in a written parliamentary reply by Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong.

First, JTC has set up a construction regulatory compliance unit (CRCU) to oversee and check regulatory approvals for all JTC development projects.

The unit serves as an additional and independent check to ensure proper project approvals have been obtained, Mr Gan said.

The CRCU will report directly to the audit and risk committee of the JTC board. JTC has also established teams specifically focused on projects with environmental impact with the necessary expertise and training.

Second, JTC has set up an environmental planning and design unit to manage and coordinate biodiversity and environmental requirements for its land clearances. It will also oversee environmental planning, design, and studies at the master planning stage, Mr Gan added.

Third, JTC has further strengthened its project management through digitalisation. For example, it has extended its integrated digital delivery processes, which are used to monitor building projects, to cover works such as land clearance. Doing so will allow JTC project managers, consultants and contractors to better monitor the progress of all land clearance works on the ground, Mr Gan said.

Fourth, JTC will form a biodiversity and environmental advisory panel, comprising nature group representatives and environmental experts, to strengthen its management of biodiversity and environmental issues in land planning and development projects. The panel will provide inputs for projects that may have significant environmental impact, Mr Gan said.

“These measures will strengthen JTC’s capabilities and processes on land clearances, environmental protection, and project management. JTC will continue to ensure that officers uphold the highest standards of integrity and governance in carrying out their duties.” Mr Gan said.

Between December 2020 and January 2021, 4.5ha of greenery was cleared before a biodiversity study was completed. The site used to be part of the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line.

Following the incident, four individuals have been charged in court for offences under the Parks and Trees Act and Wildlife Act over actions which led to the unauthorised tree-felling.

The incident also prompted a review of how agencies work, both internally and with each other.

“As the criminal proceedings against the individuals involved in the Kranji incident are ongoing, I will not comment further on the details of this specific case, so as not to prejudice the ongoing proceedings. Suffice to say, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action when public officers are found to have committed wrongdoing,” Mr Gan said.