Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can the government dam up people's dissatisfaction-12 more huge dams to go!

12 more huge dams coming up!

After the completion of Bengoh dam there will be 12 more other giant dams to be built by the state government across the state, not to count the biggest Bakun dam which is a Federal project. There is a need to monitor the dam development as we found out in the Bengoh dam case: the people are seldom consulted; elected representatives and government departments are mobilised to bulldoze the projects through with threats and inducements; dams are built over the size that are really needed to give extra benefit to the builders-who are all closely linked to the Chief Minister of Sarawak; environmental destruction not factored in the dam design-with the EIA and SIA not required by laws to be made public etc. So if the public cannot make the government accountable on the dam buildings in Bengoh and Bakun,the same negative trends will extend to the rest of the 12 dams in Sarawak-multiplying the agonies and dissatisfaction caused by the over-sized Bengoh dam and also Bakun dam! What can the desperate people do??? Can the government dam up the people's dissatisfaction forever after they dam up the water?

When the Mambong MP boasted that the people in upper Bengoh can emulate the folks in Kenyir dam in Terengganu to rear fish in the dam he may not think that when people are desperate they can do more on a dam. The following report on Bakun dam shows that people are even willing to built their house on a dam complete with their own toilet!

Bakun Dam's jelotong

BELAGA: The sprouting of floating houses, known as “Jelatong”, in the reservoir of the massive Bakun hydroelectric dam should be treated as a cause for concern, said Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo recently.
CONCERN OVER JELATONG: The floating houses in Bakun lake.
He said the government should decide fast which authority should be responsible for the development of the lake because the uncontrolled mushrooming of the Jelatong could create a messy situation in the foreseeable future.
The water quality could also be affected as domestic waste and untreated sewerage built up, he cautioned.
Billy Abit said the problem was minute at the moment because the surface area of the lake of the world’s second tallest concrete rock-filled dam was about 695 sq km – about the size of the Republic of Singapore.
“I have voiced this issue a few times before.
“I think the government should identify which authority should look after the lake,” Billy Abit said when met at his longhouse in Uma Belor, Sungai Asap Resettlement, on Thursday.
A group, led by PRS Belaga Youth deputy chairman Danny Bungan, which visited the lake last week spotted more than 50 floating houses.
One of the group members, Kennedy Chuk Pai, revealed that the houses were owned by locals who were affected by the dam construction.
Some of them used the Jelatong for their weekend retreat or to rear ‘Baong’ (a catfish species), ‘Semah’and other indigenous species.
The enterprising ones have been bringing nature-loving tourists and fishing enthusiasts to the lake.

Billy Abit said certain guidelines and procedures should be crafted and the owners of the Jelatong must abide by it.
He noted that the body responsible for the RM7 billion dam, Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, seemed to be concerned only about areas near the dam itself.
by Conny Banji. Posted on August 22, 2011, Monday (The Borneo Post)

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