Villagers to intensify anti-dam protest

By Ken Vin Lek, Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: A group seeking to stop the building of a dam in Ulu Papar is awaiting the government’s response to its allegation that the feasibility study for the project was faulty. Meanwhile, there will be “heightened campaigns locally” against the dam, said the Action Committee Against Kaiduan Dam in a statement e-mailed to several organisations and individuals.

As announced in 1998 by then chief minister Osu Sukam, the Kaiduan Dam project will involve the flooding of 12 sq km of land on which 1,400 indigenous Dusuns live and earn their living.

It will wipe out nine villages and destroy rice fields, rice mills, fruit and vegetable gardens, village markets (called tamu in Sabah and Sarawa), churches, graves, a government primary school and three community pre-schools.

It is one of 16 dams proposed under the Sabah Water Resource Management Master Plan.

Ulu Papar is in the Penampang district, where there is already a dam known as Babagon.

The statement said the environmental assessment was not done in consultation with the affected people.

It quoted at length a petition to the chief minister from the chairman of the action committee, Nousi Giun.

“The government did not obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities and has not seriously considered environmental and social costs, indigenous people issues and resources bound to be affected by the project,” Giun said.

“Most of these villages fall within the proposed water catchment reserve. They are subsistence swidden (slash and burn) farmers, relying principally on hill rice, animals and freshwater fish, as well as gathering of forest products for their daily needs.”

No consultation made

The statement said the planners of Kaiduan Dam consulted neither elected representatives nor the relevant government agencies, such as the Water Resources Council.