(Video link inside)We have just received a call from Daniel, a Kenyah teacher, in Belaga: “Nanga Merit, Nanga Metah, Punan Bah, SK Long Terawan, SK Nanga Merit, SK Punan Bah, Kampung Terawan … All the schools and villages below Belaga Town are cut off because the river has dried up due to the impoundment of Bakun Dam.”
“Even the engineers of Sarawak Hydro are telling us that the state government has no plan to overcome the problem because they are unlikely to stop the impoundment.”
“Please help us to highlight our problem. The people in those settlements need food and medicine, but the water is too shallow for boats to travel,” Daniel sounded desperate.
Indeed, it is disconcerting to see the pictures of the once mighty Rajang (called Balui at this point) River in Sarawak dried up below the Bakun Dam, and the famed Pelagus Rapids reduced to sad sights of huge rocks standing on water measured in inches.
The state government had blamed it on nature, again … refuting claims that the impoundment of the controversial Bakun Dam, commenced on October 13, had anything to do with the drying up of Sungai Balui/Rajang.
State Education Department director Mortadza Alop, who was in Kuching to receive the Loyalty Service Award on Friday, echoed the words of the state government as he told the press that the situation is manageable and he has yet to receive any distress call.
Baru Bian, prominent native customary land rights lawyer and state Chairperson of the People’s Justice Party, called on the state government to stop the impoundment, carry out fresh independent studies and shelve the mammoth dam plan.