Harness man-made lakes at HEP dams to prosper the people, state govt told

Datuk Liwan Lagang - file pic

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KUCHING, Sept 6: A long-term master plan should be implemented without further delay to develop man-made lakes created by hydroelectric power (HEP) dams in the state to give those affected by these mega undertakings a better livelihood, said Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang.

Specifically, he stressed, efforts must be made to tap the economic potential of the massive Bakun Lake — which is bigger than the whole island of Singapore — in terms of eco-tourism aquaculture and cottage industry based on culture, adventure and nature (CAN).

Liwan lamented that 20 years after the Bakun HEP came into being, the affected folk have not benefitted directly from this project.

“I believe that it’s about time for the relevant authorities to make a proper study and come up with a master plan not only for Bakun but also for other man-make lakes such as in Murum, Batang Air and Bengoh,” Liwan told DayakDaily here today.

He also appealed to those in charge of the aquaculture sector to make a thorough feasibility study on Bakun Lake to identify suitable fish species that could be reared there.

“There are a lot of things that need to be looked into, such as the right fish species, landing jetty, cold storage and processing plant. We can’t just simply do things without proper planning and studies,” stressed Liwan.

He said this in response to a recent call by Balui Lake Native Association (BLNA) chairman Pemanca Tony Kulleh to the state Agriculture Department to intervene and allow Sg Asap resettlers to get involved in aquaculture activities in Bakun Lake.

Tony claimed the Inland Fisheries Department had already told them that they could not carry out any aquaculture activity in the lake without a solid reason.

“As the chairman of BLNA, I am very disappointed with the Inland Fisheries Department for not allowing us to participate in aquaculture activities in Bakun Lake. After all, how else can we improve our economy if we are not allowed to carry out such activities?

“As such, we would like to make an appeal to the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to intervene and assist us,” Tony told Dayak Daily recently.

Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Rural Water Supply, opined that Ulu Rajang Development Agency (URDA) should be the lead agency to develop Bakun.

“As a lead agency, URDA must lead in the planning and implementation of any project in Bakun lake as there are other stakeholders involved, such as Sarawak Energy and Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB),” he said. — DayakDaily