Baram Folks want Baram Dam Cancelled
After hours of discussion the meeting came up with a jointly signed letter address to the CEO of Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), Mr. Thorstien Dale Sjotveit, the meeting wants the SEB to stop all works which are related to the construction of the dams. Instead, they request the government to develop alternative methods of power generation which are people and environment friendly. Copies of the letter were sent to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, to the Sarawak Chief Minsiter, Pehin Seri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Chairman of SUHAKAM, the Member of Parliament for Baram, YB Dato’ Jacob Dungau Sagan and the member of State Legislative Council for Telang Usan, YB Dennis Ngau.
The meeting discussed activities on the site works which are being carried out in Baram to prepare for the proposed dams’ constructions. At the moment, these works involved the surveying of the access road to the dams’ sites, soil studies and other related preliminary studies which is overseen by the Sarawak Energy Berhad, the project’s owner.
The meeting was informed that the previous week, representatives from SEB had a meeting with villagers from Long Na’aa, a village near to one of the dam’s site. At that meeting the villagers were informed that a second phase of preliminary studies for the dam is to be carried in April this year. It was learnt that most of those who came out of that meeting were not happy about the possible impact of the dam on them. Commenting on this the chairman of SAVE Rivers Network, Peter Kallang said, “In implementing projects of this nature, we request for the authorities to abide by the international standard and requirements especially the United Nation Declaration for the Right of the Indigenous People (UNDRIP). The rights of the indigenous people must be respected and they must not be relocated against their will.”
With regard to the land affected by the proposed road to the dams’ sites, the meeting was told that the extinguishment of the native customary rights had already been imposed last year in the middle of 2011, by the Land and Survey Department. However, it was also learnt that most of the land owners are not aware of the extinguishment exercise on their land. One of those whose land is affected by the land right extinguishments, Mr. Dorus Katan told the meeting, “In June last year, I was with a group of about eight land owners who went to see officers from the Land and Survey Department in Long Lama. We went to ask about our lands which are affected by the access road. At that meeting, there was a lot of dissatisfaction because the survey was done without proper consultation. But instead it went ahead without our knowledge so crops, fruit trees, rubber trees and plants on the route were cutoff and destroyed. Most of the group members at that meeting did not fill and sign the compensation claim forms as provided because they were against the dams’ projects and did not want to lose their lands.”
At a state level conference organized by SAVE Rivers Network recently, delegates from the various dams’ site were also not happy with the proposed twelve dams to be constructed in Sarawak. The conference wanted the project on the 12 mega dams in Sarawak to be stopped immediately.