KUCHING: Dr. Elie Luhat, whose field of study is environment and forestry, warns of environmental disaster in the Bakun dam in the next three to five years as recommendations made in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports are not followed.
“There was a study of EIA reports where recommendations were supposed to be made; somehow when the implementation was done such recommendations were forgotten,” alleged Elie who is the chairman of Bakun Community Safety Committee (BCSC).
Elie who told The Broken Shield said: “One of the recommendations was that we get rid of as much as possible the biomass – the trees, branches, twigs, scrubs, and plants – before the dam is to be impounded.
“But they failed to get rid of all these. Over the years, these trees, branches and twigs will get rotten and become very toxic to the water and fish.
“If you look at the EIA reports, and if they are not removed, such toxic can cause environmental disaster in three to five years’ time,” he warned.
“We have to anticipate this (disaster) will occur, but they are not observing all these things,” he said, pointing out that one of the fish that will be affected will be the ‘empurau’, Sarawak’s most famous and expensive fish.
A kilogram is worth between RM600 and RM800.
Elie was asked to explain that the change of biodiversity not only harmful to human beings, but also to the environment in the Bakun dam.
He praised the authorities for helping to move the wild animals to higher ground because of the area, the size of Singapore, would be submerged after the impoundment of the dam.
“But they should do more than that. The sad thing is to me is that they never think about what to do with fish like ‘empurau’.
“We spent a lot of money moving the animals to the higher ground, but they never think of what to do with the fish which will also be affected by the impoundment.
“The fish like animals and human beings are also affected by change of environment. When the area is submerged, all natural or wild fruit trees such as for example ‘ensurai’ which is the food for the ‘empurau’ will be submerged and destroyed. The ‘empurau’ will also be suffering.
“We should also think of providing them with food,” he said, pointing out that before the impoundment of the dam, there were a lot of empurau in the rivers.
“No one has thought of that. The fish have now gone up river not only to look for food, but also oxygen as the level of oxygen in the dam has changed. The deeper is the dam the less is the oxygen.
“Moreover, when it is too deep, the ‘empurau’ will not be able to withstand the pressure of water gravity,” he said.
Will Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu’s ‘empurau scheme’ to be launched in Bakun be affected?