Monday, June 27, 2011

Police report against Taib-linked coal plant

Corrupt Barisan Nasional - KUCHING: Angry villagers in the Rumah Bansan longhouse in Mukah have lodged a police report against the Mukah coal-fired power plant, which is linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family- owned conglomerate Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS).
In their report, the Ibans in the 13-door longhouse claimed that sea water entering their rivers during high tide had caused severe erosion and destruction to their crops and properties.
They claimed the land erosions were due to the construction of a cooling pond, which was meant to supply adequate water to cool the plant’s coal-powered generators.

The construction of the pond has caused the water level at Sungai Bedengan to go down.
When the fast-flowing sea water rushed into the river, it began to erode the banks causing them to collapse, and as a result, damaging the residents’ crops and properties.
When contacted today, Tuai Rumah (longhouse chief) Bansan claimed that his farm house collapsed in November 2010, causing about RM300,000 in losses.
He lodged the police report on behalf of himself and the villagers.
He said that they first noticed the erosion in 2009, just over a year after the plant began operations in 2008.
Initially, they thought it was just a storm, but the erosion became more frequent whenever the tides rush in.
They noticed that the water level in the river was very low and this had never happened prior to the construction of the cooling pond.
No action
He said when the erosion became worse, the villagers wrote a complaint to the Mukah Power Generation Sdn Bhd (MPG), the company managing the plant.
The MPG sought the help of the Department of Drainage and Irrigation (DID) to investigate the complaint.
However, the results of the investigations showed that the cooling pond was not responsible for the erosions and the DID concluded that the erosion was a result of “natural causes”.
But the tuai rumah Bansan was not happy with the investigations because he claimed that he has been farming at the area for more than 13 years and nothing like this has ever happened before.
“I am also not happy that MPG has yet to take action to mitigate the effects of the erosion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the executive director of Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia, Mark Bujang, said that the Mukah coal-fired power plant was completed in September 2008 and is located at the coastline at the intersection of Sibu-Mukah and Balingian and Mukah Roads.
It can generate a total of 135MW of electricity which, in turn, will be used to power the coastal grid stretching from Balingian to Sarikei and to the state-wide power grid, linking major towns in Sarawak.
The plant uses coal mined from deposits in the surrounding Mukah and Balingian districts, which is now causing land disputes with the local inhabitants as the state government is overriding native customary rights (NCR) on native-owned lands when issuing the mining licences.
Bujang said that the plant was built by CMS, a conglomerate controlled Taib’s family and is currently managed by MPG, a subsidiary of Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) in which the chief minister also allegedly has an interest.

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