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Nakwa chairman Bujal Jantai said it was most unfair to use shifting cultivators as the scapegoat for the environmental incident. — Borneo Post Online pic
Nakwa chairman Bujal Jantai said it was most unfair to use shifting cultivators as the scapegoat for the environmental incident. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KAPIT, Aug 24 — The Nanga Antawau Kapit Welfare Association (Nakwa) has chided those who have blamed Saturday’s mini logjam in Batang Baleh on shifting cultivation.

Nakwa chairman Bujal Jantai said it was most unfair to use shifting cultivators as the scapegoat for the environmental incident.

“Get your facts correct or at the very least get facts from a reliable source. What is very important is don’t twist the facts. Go to the ground and find out what actually transpired instead of putting the blame on shifting cultivation. This is absolutely not right,” he said in a statement.

“It has been years since shifting cultivation was practised in upper Batang Baleh. Because of logging activities, the local community had to stop practising shifting cultivation. Yet, they still blame it on us.”

Bujal claimed the Forest Department had failed to monitor the activities of timber concessionaires.

He stressed that strict and consistent monitoring by the department is needed to avoid a logjam from occurring again.

He pointed out that the water treatment plant at Nanga Man, Batang Rajang was forced to stop operations on Sunday because the raw water was full of mud and siltation, apart from wooden debris.

“I am concerned not only for our local community’s livelihood but also their lives. Will the logjam cause any danger on the Baleh Dam’s construction? Will blockage of the diversion tunnel be caused by the logjam?” he asked.

He also asked what preventive steps could be taken and what emergency plans are in place to evacuate the local community should the water level reach a dangerous point.

He called on Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) to update the affected local community on environmental and safety issues pertaining to Baleh Dam.

Bujal added the first logjam in 2010 made river travel along Batang Baleh dangerous and hazardous, while dead fish and even crocodiles were found floating.

“Soon after the 2010 logjam occurred, the local community performed a special offering or miring ritual to pacify the gods. Now the gods could no longer be blamed, they blame the local community! The cause of the logjam is not divine but of human doing,” he added. — Borneo Post Online

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