What Rainforest?


Environmentalists concern over Sarawak’s plan to build 12 dams
August 1, 2008, 1:55 am
Filed under: Dams, Media Reports

The Star. 24 July 2008

PETALING JAYA: Large hydroelectric dams are not necessarily a source of renewable energy, said the Centre for Environmental Technology and Development Malaysia.

Its chairman Gurmit Singh said the World Commission on Dams classified dams with a generating capacity of 30MW and below as renewable while those with larger capacities were unsustainable.

For the environment: Gurmit showing the location of the proposed dams in Sarawak yesterday. He said many people would be displaced and the projects would affect the state’s rainforest.
“We also hope the Federal Government can advise Sarawak not to be too gung ho in going ahead with the projects,” he told reporters yesterday.     

He said the 12 dams, which Sarawak planned to build were large facilities, with capacities ranging from 54MW to 1,000MW.

He said large hydroelectric dams were not assured of having “perpetual water supply” because of global climate change.

“For example, the Three Gorges Dam in China might not be filled up,” he said.

“If you do not have enough volume to fill up the dam to a certain level, then the turbines won’t turn and no energy will be generated.”

The dams are in addition to the 2,400MW Bakun dam and will push the total generating capacity in the state to 7,000MW by 2020, an increase of more than 600% from the present capacity.

Currently, Sarawak’s energy output is 933MW and it does not need any more energy.

Gurmit Singh said the authorities should also factor in the impact of such projects, where many people would be displaced and damage Sarawak’s centuries-old rainforest.

“One of the proposed dams, Tutoh, raises questions on whether Mulu National Park will be able to maintain its Unesco World Heritage Site status as the dam may submerge parts of the national park,” he said.

“Once the boundaries of the park is changed or reduced, the status would be reviewed.”

Gurmit Singh said environmentalists were prepared to meet the Sarawak Government if the state leaders were willing to meet them.

“We hope the matter does not have to be brought to court, as the process would be slow, costly and cumbersome,” he said.

When contacted, Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the additional energy output was not just for Sarawak, but would be transmitted to Peninsular Malaysia to meet the nation’s growing power demands.


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