,More than 3,000 Orang Asli residents have signed a memorandum objecting to the proposed Nenggiri hydroelectric dam in Gua Musang, Kelantan.Jaringan Orang Asli Kelantan (JKOAK) chairperson Mustafa Along warned that the dam will not only have a significant impact on the environment but also threatens to submerge their native customary lands.He said the project will submerge an area of 5,384 hectares, equivalent to more than 43,000 Olympics swimming pools.Mustafa added that the vast area will be logged and quarried first before they are submerged."Four Orang Asli settlements will be affected including Pos Tohoi, Pos Pulat, Kampung Wias and Kampung Bering."It involves 1,185 people from 217 families who will have to be relocated to Kampung Kuala Yai and 18 other villages will be indirectly affected," he told a press conference in Gua Musang, Kelantan today.The Orang Asli community lives off the land and relies on the surrounding jungle to forage and hunt for food."In short, the dam will submerge and destroy a large part of the forest and our customary land which we rely on for clean water."It will also impact our hunting and foraging activities for plants, medicine, construction material, ancestral graves and produces needed for our cultural and religious practices," Mustafa added.Kelantan deputy menteri besar Mohd Amar Abdullah had said that preliminary works for the dam will commence in March next year.He said they will include the relocation of homes, schools and basic facilities.Mustafa said the project will also submerge historical sites that are significant to the Orang Asli community from the Temiar tribe, including Gua Cha and Gua Chawan.In 2018, excavation works at Gua Chawan discovered human remains aged between 6,000 to 8,000 years old.He added that other historically significant caves such as Gua Keledung, Gua Bahaya, Gua Kecil, Gua Lubang Kelewar, Gua Perdang, Gua Rahmat, Gua Kemiri and Gua Tok Batin will also become submerged."This project will destroy the historical evidence of the Temiar community in Peninsular Malaysia," he said.Mustafa said that the main road to Pos Simpor will also be submerged, forcing the community there to use a more difficult route to reach the nearest town in Kuala Betis, Gua Musang.He said the construction period will also adversely impact the Orang Asli community as they will have to grapple with various pollution, logging and quarrying activities.Mustafa urged the federal and state governments not to approve the logging and mining activities, stressing that such exercises were a key contributor to flooding in the region.Instead, Mustafa suggested the construction of small dams in a number of locations in Machang, Tanah Merah and Pasir Mas to resolve flooding and drought problems in the state.Mustafa said the community will be submitting the memorandum to various agencies including Tenaga Nasional Berhad.He added that if the government was insistent about pressing on with the project, then they may consider mounting a legal challenge.The Temiar community has been protesting the project ever since it was put in the 11th Malaysian Plan which was presented in 2015.rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrHowever, with the project set to start next year, they are now making an increasingly desperate plea to stop the dam.
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