A GROUP of orang asli from Kampung Ulu Geruntum in Gopeng are up in arms over the building of a mini hydro dam near their village.
Represented by the Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage Malaysia (Peka) Perak, the villagers said they were unhappy with the project and are objecting as it is disrupting their livelihood and way of life.
A letter signed by Peka president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil and posted on Peka Perak’s Facebook page said that the project that started October last year had already destroyed orang asli farms and ancestral grave sites.
The letter was written to Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir on Feb 19.
“We have received a complaint from the Kampung Ulu Geruntum villagers over the project.
“We are concerned that the project will affect those staying near there as their income, food and water sources depend on the river and forest,” Shariffa Sabrina said.
“The orang asli are also concerned that the mini hydro dam will cause flooding in the area,” she added.
Shariffa Sabrina said the mini hydro dam falls under the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia’s feed in tariff programme and is being developed by Conso Hydro R E Sdn Bhd. The project is expected to be completed in October 2023.
She said the river from Sungai Geruntum also flows down to Sungai Kampar, which is a popular destination for whitewater rafting.
“We hope the state will stop the project and protect the rights of the orang asli in the area,” she said.
When met after the state exco meeting at the Batu Gajah Land Office on Wednesday, Zambry said he had received a report from state executive councillors Datuk Rusnah Kassim and Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi and would look into the issue.
“We will need to examine the overall aspects, including its social and environmental impact, before making a decision.
“The councillors involved will also look into it extensively,” he said, adding that the project is meant to generate clean energy to fulfil requirements laid out in the UN’s Kyoto Protocol for sustainable development.