KOTA KINABALU: Two Sabah anti-dam groups have called for the establishment of an independent commission to study the impact of the Papar Dam.
Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (Takad) and the Save Papar River Committee today made the call as the Sabah government is insisting on carrying out the project.
The group’s spokesman, Diana Sipail, also said they felt betrayed by the Warisan-led state government, which they had voted in to stop the project.
“We hereby call for an Independent Commission to Study the Proposed Papar Dam to be set up. It should include experts from Sabah and elsewhere to study the actual demand and capacity.
“They should also study the impact on indigenous people and the environment in an open, transparent, inclusive and objective manner.
“The government elected by the people must prioritise the people, especially the vulnerable indigenous people and nature, not the contractors and profit,” she said here today.
The group’s latest objection came in view of a recent statement by state Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony that the project will proceed as planned.
Previously, the group had passed on a memorandum to Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal to voice their protest and asking him to seek a new alternative.
Sipail also called on the state government to consider the views of Sabah geologist expert Dr Felix Tongkul, who had proposed the construction of a reservoir instead of a mega dam.
Papar Dam, formerly known as the Kaiduan Dam, was supposed to be constructed to end the acute water shortage in Sabah’s west coast by 2024.
The anti-dam groups had initially opposed the dam project that was originally sited in Ulu Papar, Penampang during Barisan Nasional’s rule.
“They have now turned their focus on Warisan, which had promised not to build the dam in Penampang, but instead had sited it in Papar, the adjacent district.”
The construction of the Papar Dam, sited at Kampung Mondorongin, Papar, is scheduled to begin this year and is expected to cost over RM3 billion. It will have the capacity of producing a billion litres a day.
“We regret to learn that the Sabah government has decided to merely make an insignificant shift in location instead of scrapping the dam entirely due to environmental and indigenous people’s concerns,” said Sipail.
Sipail said Anthony should have been more aware of the impact of constructing a dam as he is an indigenous Sabahan himself, dependent on the land for cultivation and native customary rights.
“We are also puzzled why the Warisan-Pakatan government is pushing for this mega dam urgently and in secret.”