Belaga folk can expect a better tomorrow, says rep

Liwan (second from right) witnessing the presentation of souvenir by Temenggong Ajang Sirek (in yellow shirt) to Dr Abdul Rahman (second from left) at Long Jelini, upstream of Bakun HEP Dam lake on Wednesday. Seen on the left is Acting senior assistant director (Inland Fisheries) Department of Agriculture Sarawak Awang Alim Awang Kasim and Belaga District Officer Juan Ubit (right).

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By Peter Sibon

BAKUN, Belaga, Nov 23: Besides being the major producer of hydroelectric power (HEP) in the country, Belaga district could also become a major producer of freshwater fish in the country with the right blueprint in place, said Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang.

For a start, the setting up of the Belaga Agriculture Development Committee (JPPB) to develop an integrated agriculture programme could be realised in the near future.

“We have very big hopes, and we really look towards that. But then, we also need the Inland Fisheries Department to give us good input on what kind of fish species are suitable to be reared here (at Bakun HEP Dam Lake).

“As a whole, Belaga district, which has two major HEP dams in Bakun and Murum, we have the potential to become a major producer of freshwater fish in the country,” Liwan told reporters after releasing empurau fries together with Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail at Long Jelini, upstream of Bakun HEP Dam lake here on Wednesday.

He added that cattle-rearing could also be carried out at Merit area as it was suitable for such an activity.

“Belaga is a hilly area, so we also encourage people to plant Musang King durian. For that purpose, the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development has allocated RM1 million for Belaga constituency,” he enthused.

Meanwhile, Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Water Supply, revealed that their recent trip to Canada suggested there were many areas where the state government could improve its HEP dam development programme, especially for the benefit of the affected communities.

“Besides profit-sharing (albeit at only 15 per cent with the First Nations people affected by the HEP dam in Canada), the Canadian government also have a lot of regular engagements with the affected communities. Besides that, they (Canadian government) also have diverse and inclusive teams to implement the project.

“That is what we can apply here in Sarawak for those affected by the HEP dam projects, especially for those affected by the Bakun and Murum HEP dams,” he said.

Liwan was among members of the delegation led by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to Canada recently for a study tour to learn how that country managed its HEP programme effectively. — DayakDaily