Rajang River silap mata

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The recent logjam on the Rajang River was a natural disaster caused by heavy downpour and not by over-logging or impoundment of the Bakun Dam – so says an initial report by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

This photo taken on Wed morning at 8 am ... a general view of Kapit water front ... the Kapit/Sibu jetty at far end - Photo credit: Borneo Post.
The edge of the river, which had about 2m of water (inset) is now little more than a muddy bank - Photo credit: The Star.

Sarawak Forestry CEO Len Talif Salleh was reported by Bernama as saying that a ‘3D Airborne Hyperspectral Sensor’ taken on 15 October showed that the area was still covered by forest but traces of landslides could be seen due to heavy downpour at the Ulu Sungai Melatai catchment area. “We want to clarify the misconception and nonsense from an overseas source that the logjam was caused by over-logging or impoundment of Bakun Dam.” Over-logging was not an issue, he said, because there was no logging activity on both sides of Melatai River since 2006.

Some questions and concerns:

First of all, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation is hardly the most independent entity to conduct such an investigation.

Second, Sarawak Forestry should provide clear evidence and release all sensor photos.

Third, did Sarawak Forestry take into account that the water rushing down may not have started its journey in that particular area but further up the hillslopes that may have already been denuded? Sure, maybe it is right that there was no logging along the Metalai River. But what about further beyond the river banks?

Fourth, where did all those logs and logging debris come from? From the sky? Besides, nobody said that the logjam was caused by the Bakun impoundment. They are playing silap mata and tangan with us.


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Now, the drop in the Rajang River level is a different story – probably caused by the impoundment of the dam and the dry spell. According to the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), the water level recorded at the Kapit waterfront on 13 October was 6.7 metres above sea level, reported the Borneo Post. This dropped to 1.8 metres by 5.00pm on 18 October. (Normal water level = 8m above sea level.) See Post report here.

There was no emergency plan, it would seem. Not only that, it seems like there was NO PLAN at all to anticipate the effects of the impoundment. Residents all along the river below Bakun are now faced with dire consequences as their river transport, food supplies and power could be affected.

The Star reports:

Social activist Wong Meng Chuo, who has a masters degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College in London, said he was worried that a prolonged drought would pose severe environmental and ecological consequences below Bakun Dam.

Wong said the Rajang River was denied one-third of the water source with the impoundment of the dam.

“Firstly, river navigation in some areas will stop due to low water. Secondly, salty water from the ocean would come up to as far as Sibu. Thirdly, marine and river life will be affected,” Wong pointed out.

He explained that with less water in the river, there would be less oxygen which could cause some species of fish to die. Wong added there could also be more landslides along the riverbanks as the soil structure would be different.

He said it was unlikely that the impoundment of the dam would stop because it would incur a loss of RM330,000 per day to do so.

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daniel

This is going to be an environment disaster if the water level continues to drop further.

Qabil

Is there a ‘River Monster’ in Rajang River?

Call NatGeo Wild …

Sewel

habis la the ecosystem around rajang river. its going to take years to undo what damage has been done.

ajajal

3D Airborne hyperspectral Sensor was used in Indonesia turned out to be a total failure. Those logjam is the result of poor forest harvesting practice. Logging impact due to over logged and poor monitor by the men under the leadership Sarawak Forestry CEO. Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) may not have taken place, The loggers were just targeting the volume of logs to be harvested while the Forest Department may just do a table top job by just approving the logger yearly harvesting allowable cutting which may be over harvested

moo_t

1. Log jam river, some log eventually sink and make the river bed shallow.
2. Log debris moving out to ocean.
3. Water shed, the log debris slow down and cause even more damage.
What happens if the sinked log block the river?

Nyet

Damage done by BN and the cover-up is also by Bn.

It is all known.

Kaki Bodek

What’s your problem Anil? This kinds of problems are only natural, part of the BN struggle for development. After all, the people in Kapit and also along most of the Rejang river support the BN. So, they are happy with these kinds of situations-lah. Otherwise, they would not consistently vote for the BN government. So, they will happily sacrifice for the BN and live with these minor inconveniences. After all, if Rejang river got no water for boat transport, the people of Kapit can walk to Sibu for their supplies. Not a problem. Larry Sng, their YB, can lead the… Read more »

One Borneo

actually what that len moron said is this – the rain cut those logs with pwerful cahin saw effect and throw them all at once into the river which of course never happened in the other parts of the world except sarawak.

FenceSitter

First, the ruling regime said that the logjam is due to heavy downpour (as if the debris fell from the sky) then they say that the drop in water level of the Rejang is due dry spell and not due to impoundment of the damn. Heavy downpour then dry spell. Can these people make up their mind? They can’t even fool the people in a more convincing manner.