Who are we

SOS Selangor is a coalition of NGOs and individuals who are concerned about the social, environmental and economic costs of dams and destructive river development in general and the Sg. Selangor dam in particular. It started since year 2000 as a volunteer group to protest against the Sg. Selangor Dam and currently active in monitoring and disseminating information on river development and water related projects.

Questions we raised to the National Economic Action Council (NEAC)

We were at Putrajaya to pose the following questions to the NEAC on behalf of many concerned Malaysians regarding the Sungai Selangor dam project of which there has been little transparency and accountability:

1. Why has the NEAC chosen to meet SOS Selangor only after the concession agreement has been signed and work has started?

We question the sincerity of the NEAC in wanting to incorporate our views in solving the water crisis in Selangor when they have arranged this dialogue after the concession agreement for the dam has been signed and work on the dam has started in earnest.

2. How has Selangor water consumers’ interests been safeguarded in the signing of the concession agreement?

Currently, Jabatan Bekalan Air Selangor is distributing treated water at an average price of 86 sen per cubic meter to household and industrial users. With the inflated cost of the whole project, the Splash consortium will be supplying treated water at the rate of at least RM1.30 sen per cubic metre. This is 51% higher than the current price to consumers. (The Sun, 22.11.99) How is this justifiable? The hugely inflated cost of the project must be justified to consumers.

3. Why was the project awarded without an open tender?

We know that there was at least one other contractor that put forward an alternative and lower tender and which did not involve the displacement of the Orang Asli at Pertak and Gerachi. Another bid involved a company which did not need to build any treatment plant, which would have saved consumers considerably. We would like to remind Gamuda shareholders that the Minister for Works, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has recently pronounced that all projects should be openly tendered so that consumers will gain from the best and lowest-cost tender.

4. Conflict of interest is costly for consumers

There is a clear conflict of interest in this project where a Selangor State Government company, viz. KDEB is directly involved in the Splash consortium which has been awarded the project without an open tender. Consequently, there is no independent judgement when the EIA for the project is conducted by a company appointed by the Splash consortium itself, viz. SMHB Sdn Bhd. Allegations of unethical practice against SMHB Sdn Bhd has been made by one other contract contender, Klang Valley Utilities (KVU) Sdn Bhd:

“From KVU’s findings, it is evident that SMHB’s Table 3 in the EIA report (comparing the Sg. Selangor Dam and alternative dams) can be construed as a deliberate act to discredit KVU’s proposal by the use of unsubstantiated and uncorroborated information, not to mention untruths. This practice is totally against the norms of an independent professional practice of a consultant and must therefore be dismissed as repugnant and ill-willed, whatever the motives.” (KVU’s Response to the Sg.Selangor Dam EIA)

5. The cost of the treatment plants for the project has been grossly inflated

We have been told that the cost of the treatment plant in the SSP3 project is nearly RM1 billion. Now we know that the technology involved in water treatment plants is far from “Star Wars” technology unless the SSP3 treatment plant is going to be lined with Italian marble! The JKR estimate for like treatment plants is only RM200 million.

6. How will the consortium finance the SSP3 project?

Too many infrastructure projects have been awarded to companies which have not convinced shareholders and the public that they are capable of raising the money to start their projects. The Bakun dam was just one example – in the end, taxpayers had to compensate Ekran to the tune of almost RM1 billion and after the area had been thoroughly logged. Ekran’s attempt at raising funds in the market was a flop. So how will the financing for this project be solved? Will the Government or EPF be providing a soft loan or is there going to be foreign assistance? Or will the consortium simply sub-contract the project to some foreign company and earn a commission? Consumers have a right to know because it will be costly for them.

7. Questions over the safety of the proposed dam project:

(i) Half the impounding area is on meta-sediments (soft, porous rocks) presenting high structural risk. The cost of treating this area will again raise the cost of the project. The Federal Department of Geology has said that it is preferable for the dam to be built on solid granite.

(ii) We have good reasons to believe that the consortium has done insufficient bore hole tests at the site especially on the impounding area. We also want to know whether the results of the tests done so far have been verified by the Federal Department of Geology or some other independent body. We maintain that the State Department of Geology cannot be seen to be independent while the State Government has direct interests in the project. The Federal Department of Geology must intervene to assure the public that the bore hole tests have been satisfactorily carried out and that the results of the tests are positive for the dam. We also want to know if the Federal DOE has been involved in discussions over the safety of the dam.

(iii) Why have the 45 conditions attached to the EIA not been released to the public? The safety of the dam and the protection of the environment relies on strict adherence to these conditions. Consumers have a responsibility to demand that these conditions be transparent.

(iv) Where is the Emergency Response Plan in the event of a dam failure? This is only mentioned in passing among the EIA conditions attached to the dam.

8. A conspiracy to suppress information on the availability of groundwater

We believe there is a conspiracy to suppress information based on feasibility studies done by the geology department in the primary industries ministry which show that there is ample groundwater which, together with other sustainable means can dispense with the need to build the Selangor dam. In contrast to the charges of at least RM1.30 per cubic metre by Splash on water from the Sungai Selangor dam, the charges for groundwater will only be around 50 sen per cubic metre.

9. Will the Orang Asli be faced with empty promises and damned lives yet again?

The above are by no means the only questions which concern SOS Selangor. We are concerned about the Malaysian environment, sustainable development and the heritage of the Orang Asli who have lived along Sungai Selangor for generations. The lessons of Batang Ai and Bakun have shown that what awaits displaced indigenous peoples in all the cases of displacement for dam projects is ETHNOCIDE. The compensation package for the Temuans of Peretak and Gerachi is based on the assumption that the Orang Asli do not own the land they currently reside and work on. It only takes into account replacement costs of houses and crops to be inundated but not the rest of their lands. The proposed resettlement package threatens to appropriate more than 80 per cent of their traditional lands (as recognised by the government in 1965), while promising land titles for less than 20 per cent in exchange.

10. The Sg. Selangor Dam will not solve the water crisis

The Sg. Selangor dam cannot solve the water crisis in the country while there is no serious effort to implement a National Water Policy, incorporating water conservation campaigns; water demand management through pricing and fiscal measures; re-piping the water network; cleaning up all rivers and preserving our natural water catchments. Yes, there are more responsible and rational ways to solve the water crisis in the Klang Valley!

In the short-term, efforts can be made to:

– Reduce the consumption of Non-Revenue Water, of which 40% of the total treated water supply is lost through bad management, leakage, industrial consumption, etc.

– Reduce demand by a pricing system that penalises wastage of water and gives incentives to those who save water – industries which use a lot of water must pay more for the privilege without passing the cost to consumers.

– There is ample groundwater which has not been properly looked into and rainwater to be harvested.

– SOS Selangor has also submitted an alternative to pipe water from existing lakes and reservoirs, such as Sg. Perak and the Kenyir Lake to the Klang Valley.

– Set up a Utilities Commission to regulate water tariffs so that consumers will not be at the mercy of the private consortium monopoly.

We therefore call on the Federal Government to intervene and stop the Sg. Selangor dam while these questions of concern to water consumers in Selangor have still not been clarified, and to save the priceless natural and cultural heritage for our future generations that will be destroyed by the dam.

Dr Kua Kia Soong
Spokesperson for SOS Selangor

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Save Our Sungai Selangor (S.O.S. Selangor)


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