KUALA BESUT, July 16 — PAS today slammed the authorities for not fixing a busted dam in Pengkalan Nangka here, which it claimed has affected 400 padi farmers in areas such as Kampung Nangka, Gong Manok and Kampung Tok Saboh here.
According to PAS’s Datuk Abu Bakar Chik, the Lowvier dam in Sungai Besut here has stopped working for the past two years, which was the period when the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in the by-election, Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abdul Rahman, was working as an engineer with the Besut Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID).
“After three seasons, the farmers could not plant padi for almost two years because water did not go into their 1,000-acre padi fields,” said Abu Bakar, who is PAS’s by-election special task committee co-ordinator.
A visit by The Malay Mail Online to the dam showed that half of the dam appeared to have collapsed after four of its seven pillars looked to have sunk a bit into the river.
A sand dam has been built a few metres upriver to temporarily replace the busted dam.
The Terengganu DID today denied that water supply to the padi farmers has stopped, but admitted it has been affected by the busted dam.
“That is why we built a RM2 million sand dam to fix the problem of local farmers,” Terengganu DID director Ir Mat Hussin Ghani told The Malay Mail Online.
He explained that the dam had been in service for at least 30 years, and recent floodings had finally taken a toll on the dam around two years ago.
It is understood that the makeshift sand dam has been built as a temporary measure while a further RM40 million allocation is sourced from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. The DID falls under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
On Sunday, PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub accused the BN state government of neglecting the farming community in Kuala Besut, claiming padi farmers here do not achieve the same efficiency as their contemporaries in Selangor, who can plant padi up to five times every two years.
BN’s Tengku Zaihan is up againt a local boy from PAS, Azlan Yusof, for the Terengganu state seat in the July 24 by-election which was called following the death of Dr A. Rahman Mokhtar on June 26 from lung cancer.
In Election 2013, Dr Rahman had defeated PAS’s Napisah Ismail with a comfortable 2,434-vote majority.
The state seat has 17,679 registered voters, of whom 98 per cent are Malays.