KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia, February 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sarawak is ahead of other Malaysian states in conducting Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIA) before any development projects begin. Whilst pursuing growth, the Government of Sarawak is promoting sustainable development to ensure that the environment and the state's natural resources are not adversely affected.
Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said: "I regard environmental protection and sustainable forestry as an integral part of our State's growth and our goal to achieve 'developed' country status by 2020. It is of the utmost importance that we balance development and environmental conservation. This is a key priority for the Government of Sarawak."
Most recently, the Government conducted a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment on the Murum dam project. This 940MW dam is the third hydro-power dam to be built in Sarawak and the first turbine is planned for operation in August 2012. Hydro-power is the cleanest, safest and cheapest form of energy in the long run and due to today's technologies, hydropower has a lower environmental impact than traditional fuels such as diesel.
The SEIA Study for the Murum dam project complies with international standards, especially those of the Equator Principles and the United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The study examines the social and environmental impact of the dam and the resettlement of the affected communities, including cultural heritage and ethnography. The key to effective resettlement is free, prior and informed consultation with regard to resettlement sites and livelihood options to ensure that the resettlement will result in an improvement in the lives of the people while retaining their cultural heritage. The study will be completed in early 2011 and a summary of the study will be made available to the general public for feedback.
Sarawak is experiencing major construction and infrastructure projects as a result of the Government's goals to modernise. It aims to increase GDP by 500% and provide over one million new jobs by 2030, thereby improving the standard of living for the people of Sarawak. To do this, it is investing heavily in major industry, agriculture and energy projects.
The Government embarked on the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative in 2008, to develop industry across five key areas, Tanjung Manis, Samalaju, Mukah, Baram and Tunoh. As part of the initiative two hydro power dams at Bakun and Murum, two coal power stations at Mukah and Balingian, an industrial park at Samalaju, a Halal food processing hub at Tanjung Manis, and a Science Park at Mukah are planned. Connecting roads will also be built which will stretch in to rural areas such as Baram and Tunoh.
The SCORE initiative affects a large area (320 km) and although significant the development is gradual and will take a total of 22 years to complete. The Government of Sarawak is being very careful to ensure that this growth is sustainable and that it creates a stronger economy, more jobs, better education and health facilities whilst tightly monitoring the environmental impact to ensure it is kept to a minimum.
SOURCE Asia Newswire