A pro-environment group called for the Sarawak government to stop its obsession with mega dams if it really cares about the economy, environment and especially, its people.
In a statement entitled “Sarawak must invest in alternative energy”, Save Rivers Chairman Peter NJ Kallang said the Sarawak Government’s green light for the Baleh Dam was appalling.
“Mega dams are obsolete and destructive. That’s why thousands of dams are being dismantled in developed countries.
“They recognise ugly facts,” he said.
He added that mega dams are being removed because their negative effects far outweigh the “fictional” benefits.
“Even in the United States, the world’s leading economy, dams are being removed all the time.”
Kallang also claimed that four dams are set to be dismantled in the US, along the 236 mile Klamath River, which flows through the state of Oregon and the northern part of California. He added that between 1912 and 2015, 1,300 dams were removed in the US.
Sarawak seems completely oblivious to sane options and stubbornly pursues a concept which has multitudes of negative impacts, Kallang said.
In a video interview with the Borneo Project on mega dams, he recalled Dr Atif Ansar of Oxford University’s Public Policy and Management saying that “countries would be better off without them (dams)”.
Kallang also cited a study by Professor Daniel Kammen and Dr Rebekah Shirley of the University of California Berkley, which stated that Sarawak can meet its power requirements without mega dams.
The study was for cleaner, economical and more people-centred approaches carried out with small scale micro hydro, solar power and biomass, among others.
Commenting on the study in an interview with Mongobay, Kammen said, “in perhaps the most key finding, we found that clean energy mixture can meet seven to eight per cent growth per year”.
That scenario has been used to argue for mega dams, he reminded.
“Alternative energy is more focused on people, whereas mega dams largely benefit corporations and big business.
“At existing dams in Sarawak, the people affected are as poor and underprivileged as ever. Perhaps, they are even worse off than before,” Kallang said.
FMT Reporters Online