Saturday, August 20

‘Water flowing from dam according to specification’

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KUCHING: The compensation water or ‘ritarian flow’ released from the Bakun dam is according to the specification at 150 cubic metres per second, said Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd managing director and chief executive officer, Zulkifle Osman.

IMPOUNDMENT IN PROGRESS: General view of a section of the Bakun Dam

He said at the current rate the reservoir is filled with water, the target to achieve the height of 195 metres to start the turbines could be earlier than expected.

Currently the water level is 117 metres.

“The water level above the Bakun dam including the reservoir area has been tremendous over the week due to heavy rain as recorded by our seven rainfall recording stations upriver.”

He said, it was untrue that the water released from the dam was only 120 cubic metres per second as stated by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

“Of course at the initial stage of the water impoundment on Oct 13, we couldn’t do that otherwise it would have slowed down the whole process of achieving our target of 195 metres,” said Zulkifle.

Dawos had urged Bakun Hidro, the contractor of the biggest dam in South East Asia, to release the needed amount of water so that boats could ply the river from Kapit to Bakun.

It has been reported that the tourism industry in Belaga town has been greatly affected by the impoundment of water for the dam.

However, Minister of Land Development Dato Sri Dr James Masing said the whole issue was very unfortunate as the area between Belaga and Kapit has been experiencing drought since the impoundment.

“We expect this situation to be temporary. Once the rain comes, the water level will be back to normal,” said Masing.

As such, Masing who is also Baleh assemblyman said he had met Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Linggi and Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot to find alternative form of transport to bypass the dreaded Pelagus rapids.

“The state government has just approved an allocation to gravel the logging road that would provide a shortcut to bypass the rapids,” said Masing.

The prolong drought has adversely affected some 20,000 folks living along the river between Kapit and Belaga including some 3,116 students and 443 teachers from 13 schools.

There are three clinics located in the area.