Group says the Murum Dam was unnecessary

MIRI: The cost overrun plaguing the Murum Dam in central Sarawak is a waste of public money, said environmental watchdog group Save Sarawak Rivers.

Its chairman Peter Kallang said the latest report by the Auditor-General on the Murum Dam project located in the Belaga district is a cause for public concern.

“Save Sarawak Rivers protests against the construction of mega-dam projects in Sarawak because they not only result in massive environmental destruction but also do not make economic sense.

“The Auditor-General’s report on the recently completed Murum Dam showed extra costs incurred that amounted to RM530mil.

“Environmental groups in Sarawak and abroad had all along expressed our concerns over the fact that mega-dams are bad investments,” he said.

Sarawak should stop all plans for mega-dam projects and launch plans for alternative energy sources, he added.

“Based on studies done by Oxford University in 2014, large dams suffer cost overrun on average of 9% at least.

“The cost overrun tends to increase with the increase in size of the dam,” he said.

Under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy programme, he said, the state government has plans to build 12 mega-dams statewide and Murum was the first to be completed.

“Judging by the latest Auditor-General Report on Murum Dam, it is not wise to proceed with anymore new mega-dams in Sarawak,” Kallang said yesterday.

The Murum Dam is located about 350km inland from Bintulu town.

The dam started commercial production of electricity last year and is generating about 1,000 megawatts for the needs of the industries and people in the state.

Sarawak has three other mega-dams namely Bakum Dam, Batang Ai Dam and Benggoh Dam.

Kallang yesterday urged Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem to immediately abort all the plans for other mega-dams in Sarawak.

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