The Sun Malaysia
KUCHING – The State Government will only build mega hydro-electric power dams if they are found to be feasible and if there are demands for power, not only to meet the immediate needs, but also future projected growth, Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said today.
“The timing and sequence of these projects will be customer-driven and the State will undertake these projects to match the requirements of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) industries and that of domestic and commercial customers,” he said when winding the debate in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly on matters concerning his ministry.
The Opposition assemblymen, during the debate, had asked the State government to justify the construction of 12 mega dams in Sarawak, including the already completed Bakun Dam, Batang Ai Dam and the on-going construction of the Murum Dam.
The 12 dams will have a combined capacities of about 30,000MW.
On the proposed Baram Dam, he said that the government will consider all factors before making the final decision with its construction.
He said that the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA), which started last month, is one of the factors to be taken into consideration.
Awang Tengah, who is also the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, rubbished the Opposition’s claims that Sarawak is in the running league for the most and fast rate of deforestation.
“The satellite imageries by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), NASA Tropical Deforestation Research, Sarvison and Wetland International, show that Sarawak has a forest cover of about 84 %,” he explained.
He said that based on a FAO definition of forest cover, Sarawak has 10.4 million hectares of forest cover, representing 0.3 % of 4,033 million hectares of the world’s total or 0.6 % of the world’s total acreage of tropical rainforest of 1,664 million hectares.
“Therefore, the accusation that Sarawak has the highest rate of deforestation is a big lie,” he said.
Awang Tengah also said that the total log production from Sarawak’s Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) is about 8 million cubic metres per year, which is only 6 % of the total world tropical log production of 136 million cubic metres per year.
He said that for the Jan-Sept 2012 period, Sarawak exported RM5.54 billion worth of timber and timber products, compared to RM5.4 billion for the corresponding period of last year.
He said the main markets for timber and timber products from Sarawak are Middle East countries, South Korea, China, the Philippines, India and Japan.
Awang Tengah said the export of timber and timber products to Japan showed a decline by 10 %, from RM2.29 billion for the Jan-Sept 2011 period to RM2.07 billion for the same period of this year.