Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Environmentalist's concern

This is me, as an environmentalist posting this entry. I saw this dead tree stump in the edge of a man made lake caused by the building of a dam. When I saw this, I am reminded of a trip in 1995 to Sarawak.
My sister Margaret had arranged for us and the Australian part of the family to visit a Dayak long house. To get there, we went by long boat powered by outboard engines. We sat in the boat and I saw lots of islands with a few trees and dead trees around them. I asked my guide what they were. She said, those were not islands, they were not so long ago, hills. When they built the dam, they flooded a whole area. So what was once a hill became an island.
She added that thousands of farmers were displaced. Instead of tilling the land they had done for generations, they now had to learn a new skill of fish farming.
This worried me because there had been plans to dam Rejang River to generate electricity for West Malaysia. The dam I saw was very small, it is not hard to imagine how much harm there would be to dam up a 350 miles long river. Luckily, for whatever reason, the construction of Bakun Dam is held in suspended. You may like to google search yourself.
Malaysia: conflict caused by Bakun dam continues in Sarawak

The Bakun Hydroelectric Dam Project has aroused widespread concern among environmental and social NGOs and indigenous peoples' organizations in Sarawak, which have been opposing this megaproject considered unnecessary -since the present and future energy demand of the country are adequately covered with the electricity produced nowadays- and negative from an environmental and social point of view because one third of Sarawak's remaining primary forest lie in the area to be affected by the dam, thus forcing the migration of indigenous peoples from the catchment area. In May 1997 the Coalition of Concerned NGOs on Bakun (Gabungan) urged ABB, the main contractor involved in the project, to definitively abandon the project (see WRM Bulletin 2). In February 1998 the Bakun Region People's Committee (BRPC) urges the State government and the Bakun Resettlement Committee (BRC) to shelve the resettlement of the Bakun residents which is tentatively set for July that year (see WRM Bulletin 9).

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