Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More questions raised over Murum Dam project

When corrupt politicians stayed in power for too long....this will be the consequences. They couldn't care a hoot about nature and the natives.


Oct 27, 2009
More questions raised over Murum Dam project

MURUM (Sarawak): Environmental organisations are aghast to find that the construction of the RM3bil Murum Dam in central Sarawak has already proceeded despite the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was only released less than two weeks ago.

Sarawak Conservation Action Network (Scane), a coalition of more than a dozen environmental and community rights groups, said the way the state government had carried out the project was a cause for deep concern.

Scane director Raymond Abin told The Star on Tuesday that the EIA for the Murum project was only made public on Oct 18 and the Social Impact Assessment report is not even ready yet, but site- and road-clearing at the Murum Valley in Belaga district have already gone full-steam ahead.

“The developer for the Murum project (a Malaysia-China consortium led by Sarawak Energy Bhd) had only just finished the EIA report. I have a copy with me. It was only completed recently (on Oct 18).

“The report has not been gazetted as yet or tabled for discussion at official levels. The Department of Environment (DOE) has not given its approval for the report nor has the public been given a chance to express their views on it. The Social Impact Assessment has not been completed yet.

“Despite all this, the construction of the Murum Dam is already in full progress,” he said.

“The natives affected by the project have not even agreed to the relocation plan proposed by the state government. Their native land has not been surveyed. They have not been offered any compensation and yet project construction has already started,” he added.

The Star paid a visit to the Murum Valley, located 70km inland from the Bakun Dam, and found that the access road into the site earmarked for the 80m high dam had already been paved.

Trucks, lorries and four-wheel drives were making their way into and out of the Murum Valley, transporting heavy equipment, workers and raw materials like steel, cement, gravel, fuel and the like.

The dam will flood about 30,000 hectares of the Murum Valley to create a reservoir that can feed water into a generation plant to produce about 900 MWs of electricity by 2013.

Some 2,800 people, including 1,800 Penans, will have to be uprooted from eight settlements in the Murum Valley.

Abin said the manner in which the Murum Dam had proceeded without prior EIA approval and without the resettlement issues being resolved showed that the state government had no intention of negotiating or considering the plight of the affected natives.

“There is no genuine concern for the people affected by the project. In fact, some of the affected Penans said the blasting in the Murum Valley (to create the access road on the hillslopes) had started even last year, long before the state government had announced its intention to start the project.

“The affected natives had protested to the Chief Minister (in September) but to no avail,” he said.

A check with the Belaga District Office showed that the Murum Dam EIA report can be viewed by interested parties at the office’s premise.

The Murum Dam is the first of 12 new dams that are to be constructed throughout Sarawak.

No comments: