Aerial footage circulated on social media last month revealed that large swathes of vegetation flanking the Rail Corridor in Sungei Kadut had been cleared - and prompted a public outcry. There is no doubt that a regrettable and deeply concerning lapse had occurred in the management and supervision of the Kranji woodlands site. The incident involved the erroneous clearance of land that was already earmarked for the Agri-Food Innovation Park. The 4.5ha area was cleared in December before environmental studies there had been completed. Obviously, there were gaps in the way in which the project had been handled. However, it is unhelpful to point accusatory fingers until investigations reveal the full picture.
That the findings will be made public is an acknowledgement of the need for transparency and accountability. That should assuage public concerns, and the agencies and contractors involved will no doubt learn from it and improve work processes all round. It would also be misleading and wrong if an episode now under investigation leads people to conclude that Singapore is environmentally unfriendly. A KTM railway line ran through the Kranji plot, but after it was returned to Singapore, it turned to scrub land where non-native trees regrew. The clearance was not part of an egregious disregard for nature in pursuit of economic development, but a particular instance of a plot having been cleared before environmental studies had been completed.