As A Dam Forces Villagers Out...They Worry About Their New Lives

Navis bin Impok has spent a simple but idyllic life fishing and collecting fruit on ancestral lands beside the pristine Selangor River, but at 63, he is in for an unwanted career change. He and his family will also have to abandon their bamboo-and-wood home in a few months as the fleet of excavators, dump trucks, and tractors rumbling outside remind him every day. They are busy building a 110-meter-high dam that will inundate his gardens along with 600 surrounding hectares. The dam is to supply water for thirsty Kuala Lumpur, just an hour's drive away. The 300-plus residents of Navis' village of Gerachi and another called Pertak will have to move to higher ground, where they are to become oil-palm cultivators. "The government says we will be better off there, but I don't think so--I don't know anything about palm oil," says Navis. "We are sad to have to move."

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