PETALING JAYA: Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) has deplored chief minister Abang Johari Openg’s revelation that the state would proceed with the Trusan dam project, saying it contradicted with the policy of his predecessor, the late Adenan Satem.
In a statement today, the NGO reminded Abang Johari, who took office after Adenan passed away in January, that the previous chief minister had said that there was no need for big dams in the state.
It also pointed out that Abang Johari had reportedly said after being sworn in that he would continue Adenan’s legacy while looking ahead for a new economic model to achieve Sarawak’s aspiration to be the leading state in Malaysia by 2030.
“But building another mega dam does not seem to be consistent with Adenan’s policy,” it said.
“The modern international trend is for small-scale and green power sources which have minimum impact on the environment and the ecosystem,” it added.
Adenan had said in an interview with Channel News Asia in May 2016 that the reason for scrapping the Baram dam in the state was that there was no need to have another big dam.
“We can have mini dams and so on, but not big dams especially when we don’t supply (power) to west Malaysia anymore,” he was quoted as saying.
SAVE Rivers said a good example of a system that could be adopted for rural Sarawak was the “micro-hydro”.
It said Sarawak had a multitude of small streams which could be considered for the construction of micro dams under the system.
Power supply could then be distributed via a mini grid system in rural areas, it said, adding that Adenan was keen on having reliable power distribution in rural Sarawak.
On July 22, the Borneo Post cited Abang Johari as saying that the Trusan dam project would proceed as planned to accommodate future demands for water and electricity supplies, and at the same time turn the lake into a tourism product.
He said once the dam is completed, it should be able to generate 100MW to 200MW of power.
He also indicated that the project in Lawas would begin after the completion of the Baleh Dam now being built in Kapit.
Meanwhile, SAVE Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said after the completion of the Bakun dam in 2011, the then energy, green technology and water minister Peter Chin had mentioned that there would be no worry about power shortage in Sarawak for a long time upon the dam being commissioned.
“Now not only do we have the 2400 MW Bakun dam, but also the 944MW Murum and soon the 1295MW Baleh dam. So why do we want to build the Trusan dam?” Kallang said.