Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Do Baleh Dam before Baram Dam – Masing

by Peter Sibon, Posted on August 28, 2013, Wednesday
UPCOMING PROJECT: Masing (second left) showing the site map of the proposed Baleh HEP dam to a group of Japanese investors led by Tetsoo Fujii (right) and The Borneo Post’s senior managing editor Francis Chan (left) at Bangunan Baitulmakmur in Kuching yesterday.
PROPOSED HEP DAM SITES: The map of Sarawak showing the proposed HEP dams in Sarawak.

KUCHING: The state government should focus on constructing the Baleh HEP Dam instead of Baram HEP Dam as it does not involve any resettlement exercise.

Land Development Minister and Baleh assemblyman Tan Sri James Masing said that would be more logical as power input from Baleh will be slightly more than Baram Dam, which had been stirring the ‘hornet’s nest’ of aggressive non-governmental organisations (NGOs) even at its proposal stage.

The proposed Baleh HEP Dam can generate some 1,400 MW of power compared to 1,000 MW from Baram HEP Dam.

“If our interest is to produce energy to propel our industries with less problems, then the Baleh HEP Dam is the answer. Not because it is in my ‘kawasan’ (area) but because we need the energy to power our industries,” Masing told The Borneo Post after receiving a courtesy call from Japanese investors at his office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur here yesterday.

He added that while the Baleh Dam is under construction, the government would have time to redefine and review its resettlement programme so that it would be more acceptable to both the local people as well as to the international community.

“This is because in constructing the Baleh HEP Dam, the government will not face any social problem as there is no resettlement scheme needed.

“This is the reason I would like Baleh HEP Dam to be implemented first because it provides the least problem to us,” added Masing.

He pointed out that there is a need to improve the resettlement schemes involving mega projects in the state.

“To me, until and when we have refined our resettlement programme in proper order then we can go on to the resettlement exercise in Baram. So, we do the Baleh Dam first as it is without resettlement exercise,” he argued.

He also said he had discussed with some relevant individuals on why Baleh is a much better choice compared to Baram.

All that is needed now before the project can be started is a road leading to the proposed dam site, he said.

The Baleh HEP Dam is expected to cost some RM4 billion to build.

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