MIRI: The Baram Dam project has yet to be approved due to the lack of feasibility studies like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA).
“Stop portraying that the Baram Dam has been approved, as feasibility studies like EIA and SEIA have yet to be completed,” said the executive director of Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas), Mark Bujang in a statement recently.
The Aug 24 announcement on the formation of Baram HEP Community Consultative Committee, headed by Baram MP Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan and Telang Usan state assemblyman Dennis Ngau, to look into the relocation of affected villagers gave the impression that Baram Dam had been officially approved.
Mark called on the state government and its agencies like Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), including Jacob and Dennis, to stop misleading the people on the status of the Baram Dam project.
“The state government has even issued notices of extinguishment of native customary rights (NCR) over lands affected by the access road to Baram Dam from the Rural Growth Centre (RGC) in Long Lama, Baram,” said Mark, who met up with a group of concerned citizens and professionals recently to discuss the Baram Dam issue.
They included Baram Folks Protection Committee chairman Philip Jau, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) Marudi field director Jok Jau Evong, Sarawak Indigenous Lawyers Alliance (Sila) and Lawyers for Liberty director Abun Sui Anyit, Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane) coordinator Raymond Abin Bira, Sarawak Native Customary Rights Network (Tahabas) president Romuald Siew; and Malaysia Indigenous People Network (JOAS) president Thomas Jalong.
He pointed out the legal requirement under the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Order, 1994 (NREO) in the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance (Amended) 1993 for EIA report of the project to be submitted and approved by Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), which is chaired by the Chief Minister.
“In this case, even the size and exact site of the controversial dam has not been decided,” he said.
The state government and the SEB have recently stated that they will fully comply with international standards when implementing the 12-dam projects in Sarawak including Baram Dam.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) requires governments to obtain free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous people, before implementing development projects in their territory – informal briefing session for a select few does not qualify as FPIC as they do not represent all affected folks.
The Federal Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Sri Peter Chin has also recently stated that Sarawak is going to have surplus power for a long time once Bakun Dam goes online.
“There’s no need for 12 dams as it would result in a huge surplus of energy exceeding 600 per cent – at over RM36 billion, building them will adversely affect Sarawak’s financial standing.
“Problems caused by Batang Ai dam has yet to be resolved, while problems faced by displaced communities in Bakun and Murum are mounting by the day – it’s unjustifiable and irrational for more dams to be built,” he added.