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Friday, August 17, 2018

What happened to Warisan’s manifesto pledges???

The Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam reiterates its stand against the dam project, whether in Penampang or Papar.

KOTA KINABALU - A grassroots movement formed to resist plans for the Kaiduan Dam has called on the Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government to halt construction of the mega dam, in keeping with its manifesto pledge to protect, preserve and conserve nature in Sabah.

The Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (TAKaD) said if the project was allowed to continue, it would have a negative impact on the environment whether in Penampang, where the dam was initially planned to be built, or in Papar where the government had proposed moving the project following objections from locals.

TAKaD spokesman Diana Sipail said in 2014, Unesco had declared the Crocker Range Park one of the world’s biosphere reserves.

“If the state government insists on this dam, be it in the Penampang district or the Papar district, it means it is exploiting the resources of the community living here without listening to or studying the alternatives we have proposed,” she said at a forum in Kg Bisuang, Papar, near here recently.

Sipail said the state government should have planned development according to the wishes of the affected communities.

Instead, she added, locals living along the Papar river now felt miserable and threatened, as they had under the previous administration.

“In the fight against the Kaiduan Dam over the past 10 years, TAKaD, other NGOs, academics and even politicians who now form the government worked hard to make the previous government listen and use other more sustainable alternatives to conserve water.

“The plan to build the dam as a solution to the issue of water supply was based on studies started in the 1980s. It is no longer relevant today,” she added.

Earlier this year, villagers in Kg Bisuang were shocked when Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony announced through the local media that the Kaiduan Dam, initially planned in Penampang, would be shifted downstream to the Papar district.

Anthony said the new Papar Dam would be smaller but would cost less than the Kaiduan Dam at RM2 billion.

The announcement sparked a backlash from NGOs, especially following reports that work on the new dam would commence before year-end.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said the proposed Kaiduan Dam had been scrapped due to the protests of Penampang residents. He said this was why the project was shifted to Papar instead.

Sipail noted another of Warisan’s manifesto pledges which promised to ensure that the Sabah Water Department put more focus on a long-term strategy to provide water to the people based on population growth.

She also pointed out that each dam had a lifespan, voicing concern that once these periods ended, the government would uproot other communities and sacrifice more forests to build more dams.

“My point is, rivers will keep living as long as there are communities to help take care of them. Water from the Papar river should be used for the people, but do not kill it by building a dam over it.”

She said TAKaD believed Sabah had many engineers who were capable of finding alternative solutions to the water supply problem. She also questioned whether the government was interested in investing in sustainable water supply and power supply technology.

“Just to remind everyone, the Papar river is the only main river in Penampang and Papar that is still untouched,” she added.

By Tracy Patrick

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