Thursday June 13, 2013
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: Residents who will be uprooted by the Baram dam project are upset that the construction works on the road to the dam site have been accelerated even before the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) studies have been completed.
Peter Kallang, chairman of an environmental watchdog group Save Sarawak Rivers Network told The Star that he had found that the construction of the road to the RM4bil hydro-dam site in Long Kesseh, 200km inland from here, was in its third stage, which is the last stage of construction.
“Why is the state government hurrying the construction of the access road to the Baram dam site when the EIA and SIA studies are not completed?
“The 20,000 plus people of Baram who will be uprooted by the project have not even been consulted. Yet the road to the dam site in Long Kesseh (in Baram) has been constructed up to Long Lama town and now extending into Long Kesseh.
“The first stage of the road — from Beluru bazaar to Lapok bazaar — and the second stage — from Lapok to Long Lama — have been completed. The third stage, which is the final phase, will connect Long Lama to Long Kesseh.
“This is making a mockery of the EIA and SIA requirements. The fact that the state authorities have not only proceeded with the access road building but quickened the pace of construction means that the dam project is already confirmed.
“The authorities said the EIA and SIA studies would only be completed in October.
“If that is the case, then how can they proceed with the access road? The EIA and SIA are supposed to touch on the impact of the whole project on the locals.
“The road is already affecting the lives of many NCR land owners. Bulldozing their way through the project without regards for the EIA and SIA and the people’s feelings showed that in Sarawak, these surveys are for show only,” he said.
Kallang, who is also Orang Ulu National Association Miri Division chairman and the Miri Kenyah Association chairman, said the building of the huge road was to enable heavy-duty vehicles like trucks, bulldozers, excavators and cranes to be transported from Miri to the dam site.
“The construction of the road had resulted in soil erosion and pollution of the river systems. The state authorities must stop all construction works now. Wait until the EIA and SIA surveys are concluded and wait until the affected people have given their consent to the project,” he stressed.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau confirmed that the road was being built now, stage by stage.
The EIA and SIA would be completed before end of this year, he said.
~ The Star