Monday, January 27, 2014

A dam, by any other name is still a dam

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Belud does not need a dam. And camouflaging a dam under the guise of a “man-made” lake is not only irresponsible but ‘manipulative and misleading’, said local NGO Himpunan Hijau.

Said its chief Wong Tack: “Why do we need a man-made lake? It is a dam that they’re talking about. We don’t need a dam in Kota Belud.

“They are using the term man-made lake to mislead and to manipulate the people.”

Wong said the whole concept of building a RM115 billion Gaur Eco-City in Kota Belud was questionable.

“You can see quite clearly here, this is a project that was proposed without a proper study, without consulting the people, without looking at the concept as a whole at regional and also as a state.

“Eco development is basically you working with nature without destruction and in a sustainable manners. It should not just bring benefits to the people of this generation but future generations as well,” he said.

Wong said the project will threaten the existing natural forest and asked why such project was being sited at foothill of Mount Kinabalu.

According to the proposal, the envisaged eco-city will boast various facilities which will all be linked with a cable car system. An integrated transport including a monorail will be built around the man-made lake reminiscent of Venice in Italy.

The lake will be dotted with hotels, housing, hospital and a golf course.

Responding to the proposed development, Wong asked where in the plan was the ‘eco and sustainable’ concept.

Sabah, he said had the best that nature could offer and it was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘nonsensical’ to build a city in a remote area.

“We have the best, we have mountain, we have the valley, the river system, we have paddy field, we have low land, we have mangrove, we have beautiful beach beside that and all the way to the blue turtle at sea and the islands .

“With all this natural environment, it is nonsense to build a city under the guise of eco development,” he said adding that building an eco-city in Kota Belud was also not financially feasible.

He alleged that someone had drummed out the project only to create a contract with the government.

Protect, conserve Kota Belud

He proposed instead that Kota Kinabalu (KK) be turn into an eco-city as all facilities for an eco-city were already in place here.

“You know, we have beautiful beach front, we have beautiful landscape terrain in KK. If you talk about eco city, put the money in and turn Kota Kinabalu into an eco-city.

Wong further said that for Kota Belud what was now needed is a proper regional study of the area.

“We must identify all the resources, identify all the potential and then the work in Kota Belud is about restoration.

“We need to restore the already spoiled river system, restore the township to reflect the culture and tradition of the area.

“Protect and conserve while its still there. That is more important. Then there must be a plan to bring in tourists into the area. That is more important,” he said.

He believes that Kota Belud, the way it now is already posses sufficient appeal to support a healthy eco-tourism programme for the state.

”We must not allow people because of greed, because of selfishness to destroy God’s gift to the people of Sabah.” Wong said.

Wong aside, DAP Sabah secretary Edwin Bosi is also skeptical about the Gaur Eco-City project.

“I am a little skeptical of such gigantic development in Kadamaian when even our basic infrastructure, road and electricity are in such a sorry state.”

“While such development is viewed positively, the rakyat, especially in Tambatuon, hope that this project is not a ‘backdoor’ to revive the Tambatuon dam.

“Is there a connection between the Tambatuon Dam and Gaur Eco-city? We remember that the government failed to undertake an environmental impact assessment or EIA for the Tambatuon Dam,” he said.

Bosi said from what was reported in the press, a feasibility study would be launched on February 18 and if all went well, the tendering of works was expected to be called by April and it would be up and running by the fifth year of construction.

“The question is how could an EIA for a development undertaking of this size be completed in three months?

No comments: