KUCHING: The government is urged to conduct an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) study on the Ba Kelalan-Bario road project before proceeding with the construction works.
Former Ba Kelalan assemblyman Datuk Nelson Balang Rining wants the EIA done as soon as possible to assess possible impact on the Sungai Muda water catchment area.
“The EIA study should be conducted to make sure the area is not adversely affected,” Balang said when contacted yesterday.
Meanwhile, the current assemblyman Baru Bian confirmed that an EIA study had not been conducted and thus called on the government to listen to the needs of Ba Kelalan folk.
He added that since there was no extinguishment of NCR land status at the area meant that the (road) route did not have to be fixed and it could be modified to cater to the people’s wishes.
“My advice is for the government to listen to the people. They are not against development, but they want the road to benefit the people and not the contractors,” he said.
He went on to say that the villagers did not even mind having sub-standard roads as long as one of their main water catchment areas in Sungai Muda was not destroyed.
“We have sub-standard roads from Lawas to Ba Kelalan but we don’t mind as long there’s a road. But, I want to make it very clear that the people do not want their water catchment area and their jungle destroyed, because it is the source of their livelihood.”
Locals have been complaining that the Ba Kelalan-Bario road project would affect the water sources of six villages and a primary school in the area.
They said the destruction of the water catchment area at Sungai Muda would contaminate their drinking water and water used for their paddy fields and livestock.
Construction of the RM42 million Ba Kelalan-Bario road started on Oct 1 and is expected to be completed by Sept 2014. The Royal Army Engineers Regiment is already in Ba Kelalan to carry out the project under the Blue Ocean Strategy, an extension of the army’s Jiwa Murni programme.
About 2,000 villagers from Punan Kelalan, Long Muda, Long Kumap, Long Langai, Long Lemutut, Buduk Nur and an international award winning school, SK Ba kelalan, will be affected by the project.
~ The Borneo Post