Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bakun Dam ‘is an economic rip-off’

October 11, 2010
By Joseph Tawie

The construction of the Bakun and seven other dams plus the coal-fired power plants are economic rip-offs – they are Sarawak’s own get-rich-quick schemes.

“The massive sums involved in building these large dams would certainly guarantee handsome profits for the privileged project proponents,” said See Chee How, Sarawak PKR information chief.

“This is not development for Sarawak, but an economic rip-off. Sarawak-owned get-rich-quick schemes have exhausted our timber resources.

“Almost all our agricultural land have been leased out,” he said when commenting on the astronomical costs of constructing the Bakun Dam.

PKR, he said, wants the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry or a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry to find out the final costs of the Bakun hydro-electric project and where the money has gone to.

“The commission should also re-examine the cost-benefit analysis and the economic viability of the Bakun project,” said See.

See added that the original cost was estimated at RM3.95 billion in 1983 and RM4.09 billion in 1985. With cost overruns and compensation for delays and interests, the final tag is believed to have escalated to RM15 billion today.

“But Malaysians have been kept in the dark as to the final costs and where the substantial additional sums have gone to,” he said.

India’s experience

“Even with the cost now estimated by the federal government at RM7.3 billion, double the original estimate, there is a need to re-examine the cost benefit analysis and the economic viability of the Bakun project” said See.

“It must be borne in mind that only one out of the originally planned eight hydro turbines will be commissioned next year, reducing its power generating capacity from 2,400MW to 300MW.

“Take India’s experience: it has more than 3,000 dams but 60% of them are economically non-viable financial disasters because they are not able to recoup their investments.”

“The Sarawak BN government owes all Sarawakians an explanation. We want Second Planning and Resource Management Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan to give us his reason for saying that the Bakun Dam is not a white elephant.

“Sarawakians have paid their share of the cost of the RM15-billion project and we now have to fork out another RM7 billion to buy the federal project,” he said.

“What is the actual cost to all Sarawakians? We have not included the socio-economic and environmental costs which all Sarawakians have to bear.

“Bakun was originally projected to generate 2,400MW power. If the state government is convinced that Bakun is economically viable, Sarawakians should be convinced that it can generate the 2,400MW power.

“Otherwise, what is the justification for the seven new dams and more coal-fired power plants?” he asked.

Source: Hornbill Unleashed


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