A Sarawak environmental network has condemned the hasty impoundment of the Bakun Dam and called upon the government and Sarawak Hidro to first put in place a security and emergency plan.
Miri — The Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane) condemns both the federal government of Malaysia and the Sarawak state government for permitting Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd to proceed with its impoundment of Bakun Dam without an Emergency Rescue Plan (ERP) to deal with any eventualities of environmental disasters as a result of dam failure.
Scane has been informed that Sarawak Hidro will start with the impoundment of the dam as early as today (13 October). On Monday, a tragedy happened at the dam site: a long boat capsized and a man has been reported missing.
Once again, Scane warns Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd not to start and instead to immediately stop the impoundment of the dam as the firm has failed to come up with an ERP that guarantees the safety of the communities living downstream. The government(s) and Sarawak Hidro should not too hastily close the river diversion tunnels to impound the dam – not until the ERP has been drawn up, the public at large well informed of the plan, and all precautionary measures put in place and operational.
Prior to the impoundment, the communities downstream and the public at large should be adequately and extensive informed of the adverse impact of the dam: a monstrous project like the Bakun Dam could have consequences, some of which may be unforeseeable. Scane fears that the impoundment may cause environmental disorder that would eventually trigger earthquakes, landslides and floods.
Scane condemns the hasty dam impoundment and calls upon the government and Sarawak Hidro to put in place a security and emergency plan prior to the impoundment of the dam rather than just totally overlook these matters while simply gambling with nature, human safety and security aspects of the dam.
Raymond Abin is national coordinator of Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane)
First published on Aliran website on 14 October 2010