Drowned Forests and Damned Lives

Drowned Forests and Damned Lives

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October 11, 2008

Drowned Forests and Damned Lives is a 32-minute video report that explores the Orang Asli’s struggle against the Kelau Dam project in Pahang state, Malaysia.

Said to be an irrational project, the project will be placed on the Kelau river in Pahang, flooding approximately 1,540 hectares of vegetation within the Lakum Forest Reserve. A 44km pipeline will also be constructed, to transfer water to the more populated state of Selangor.

Two Orang Asli villages are facing involuntary resettlement for the dam.

There is a considerable amount of controversy surrounding the resettlement, as peacefulsocieties.org remarks in an April 2008 review of the film:

The basic fact is that the Chewong village, like the Temuan, does not need to be moved—the people do not need to be resettled. The project will not flood their lands. The height of the dam has now been reduced, so even the Temuan community is 16 meters above what is called the “danger level” of the proposed reservoir. The Chewong village is high above that. Since their communities will not be flooded, why are the Orang Asli threatened?

The answer is that the Orang Asli lands will become lakefront property after the dam is constructed—too valuable to allow it to remain in the possession of the Temuan and the Chewong. The Sultan of Selangor built an expensive lakefront lodge above another reservoir. The argument made by the government that the Temuan and Chewong villages need to be resettled for their own safety is simply not valid.

There are a number of other controversies surrounding the dam project, including the legality of the Environmental Impact Assessment (against which a civil suit was filed); and, among others, the matter of whether or not the dam is even necessary.

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