KUCHING: PKR Sarawak chairman Baru Bian said the Sarawak government’s decision to build a hydroelectric dam on the Trusan River in Lawas had made former chief minister Adenan Satem’s assurance not to pursue a policy of building any more dams worthless.
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg made the announcement to build the dam at Sarawak Energy Bhd’s raya gathering in Kuching last Friday.
The Ba Kelalan assemblyman said the decision had meant the words of the late Adenan carry little weight now.
“We did not expect the government would still plan to build more dams, especially since its previous policy was not to pursue any more dam-building.
“The late chief minister Adenan Satem had said categorically that there is no need for more big dams.”
“It appears the assurances made by his government count for nothing.”
Abang Johari had said the decision to build the 275 megawatt (Mw) dam was due to renewed interest from Brunei in buying “cheap” electricity from Sarawak to power homes and light industries in its territory of Temburong.
While SEB chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi said the state power company would have to revisit their studies of “three or four years ago” to determine when they could start building the dam, Abang Johari had a few years ago said the state could supply power to Brunei in 2019.
The Trusan dam, one of 12 hydroelectric dams the state had proposed to build to meet the state’s projected power needs and demand of neighbours, is considered “very small” compared to the state’s three mega dams – Bakun with a 2,400Mw installed capacity, Murum (944Mw) and just started Baleh (1,285Mw).
The Baleh dam is scheduled to be completed in 2025.
Baru hinted he was not exactly told the truth on th Trusan dam in the state assembly.
He said when he asked about the status of the then-proposed Lawas and Trusan 2 dams during the November 2014 sitiing , the then Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan replied that “both dams are still in the feasibility study stage”.
Baru said he it was contrary to Hamed’s disclosure when he told reporters after the gathering the feasibility studies for the dam were completed four years ago.
With the construction going ahead, the lawmaker is now seeking assurances from the government to have a “proper and thorough surveys” carried out, including the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and social environmental impact assessment (SEIA) statements after full consultation with the people affected.
He said where there are native customary rights (NCR) claims, the government must assure the people that they will be properly compensated.
He said the compensation “must not be based on the government’s narrow view of temuda, but on the adat of the people, which extends NCR (native customary rights) to pemakai menoa and pulau galau”.
“The state government should also guarantee that the whole of the Lawas and Ba’ Kelalan areas will be supplied with grid power supply and proper infrastructure, including good tar-sealed roads.” – dayakdaily.com