KUCHING: Local and international organisations have united to call on the Auditor-General to conduct an audit of Sarawak Energy Berhad’s Murum Hydroelectric Project, located in the interior of Sarawak.
SAVE Rivers Network, the Bruno Manser Fund and International Rivers are requesting an audit be conducted given “unresolved issues related to safety, reliability and concerns of affected communities”.
In a letter to the Auditor-General, the civil society groups are appealing for an inquiry to be done into whether the hydroelectric project meets all federal guidelines on construction, operational management, financial integrity and compensatory measures for the affected communities.
The matters, according to them, have reached a point of urgency due to the fact that Sarawak Energy has announced the dam will be commissioned during the second quarter of 2015.
According to Peter Kallang, chair of SAVE Rivers, “There are several pending concerns we have, including in relation to safety. It is therefore imperative that an audit be conducted immediately.”
“Commissioning must be put on hold until an audit is completed and any resulting remedial actions are taken.”
The International Hydropower Association (IHA), to which Sarawak Energy belongs, has also been alerted on the stakeholders’ concerns.
The Murum Dam has been assessed by the IHA’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, which evaluates technical, economic, financial, social and environmental performance.
However, to date, Sarawak Energy has not made the study public.
According to Anna Meier of the Bruno Manser Fund, “The refusal of Sarawak Energy to disclose the results of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol study on the Murum Dam has led to uncertainty and distrust among stakeholders.”
“Publicly releasing this study would allow verification of compliance with federal and state guidelines as well as internationally applicable frameworks.”
Last July, a leaked assessment conducted by the Norwegian consultancy firm Norconsult revealed serious flaws with the turbines of the currently impounding Murum Dam.
Norconsult concluded that the “turbine runners are not suitable for installation and operation” and that these flaws “may cause small or catastrophic breakdowns”.
After a short statement by Sarawak Energy, assuring the public that the issues will be fixed in time for the full commissioning of the project, the company has remained silent on the status of the rectification works.
~ Free Malaysia Today