KUCHING: The state will not proceed with the building of the Baram hydroelectric dam until further notice, amid constant protests and blockades by anti-dam protesters.
In announcing this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the government will now focus on building the Baleh dam instead.
He pointed out that the state had decided to halt the project to respect the views of the local community who opposed the construction. Over the years, the Baram dam project had received much flak as anti-dam protesters erected blockades and held numerous media campaigns.
“There have been many protests and blockades by the people who voiced their disagreement to the building of the Baram dam. If you don’t want the dam, fine. We will respect your decision. I hope you understand the impact for refusing it, as you will be missing out on related projects which are beneficial, such as roads and other necessities.
“One day, you will find that not building the dam has given some disadvantage and as a result of this, you suffer. That is in your own hand. It is your decision,” Adenan said in his speech at the Public Service Day 2015 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here yesterday.
Some 7,500 civil servants attended the event which was also held in conjunction with the presentation of the Chief Minister’s Award – a recognition under the ambit of the State Civil Service Quality Award.
In June, anti-dam group led by Sarawak SAVE Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang met with Adenan to discuss the
matter, where the latter agreed on a moratorium pending a final decision. Adenan had put on hold plans to build the 1,000MW hydroelectric dam to give the state some time to go through studies by international dam and environment experts.
The Baram dam has evoked strong opposition from local communities who had erected barricades to stop surveyors and road builders accessing the site.
The chief minister had initially approved plans by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to proceed with the construction of the Baram dam and 1,200MW Baleh dam, scheduled to begin as soon as December. In 2013, some 300 indigenous people protested outside the International Hydropower Association World Congress at the BCCK in regards to the building of dams in the state.
Apart from the Murum hydroelectric dam that was completed last year, the state also has the Bakun dam and the Batang Ai dam that was built 30 years ago.
Source: Borneo Post Online