KUCHING: Reports that the people in Baram are against the construction of the proposed Baram hydroelectricity (HEP) Dam is a lie by the opposition, says Telang Usang assemblyman Dennis Ngau.
In fact the majority of the people of Baram, mostly from the Orang Ulu communities such as the Kayans, Kenyahs and Penans wanted the project as they saw that was one way they could benefit from the government development programme.
“But the opposition of the Baram HEP Dam employed scare tactics on the people saying that the dam would not be safe and that they would drown if the dam burst,” Ngau told The Borneo Post here Sunday.
He said those who opposed the construction of the dam was small in number and they were backed by several NGOs.
“For us, we based our feedback from the majority of the people in the area and representatives from all the 32 longhouses affected are in the committee we formed to handle the welfare of the affected people,” said Ngau.
He added that the chairman of the Baram Hydro Dam Consultative Committee was Baram MP Dato Jacob Dungau Sagan with himself as deputy.
Ngau reiterated that he would be fighting for his people for better benefits based on the Equator Principles or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which said that the affected people would be getting proper housing, cash compensation and land for agriculture.
“As their representative, I want the best deals from the relevant authorities. I cannot be unfair to my own people,” assured Ngau, adding that the displaced people could choose the resettlement areas. He said only about 10,000 people from 32 longhouses would be affected by the dam and not 20,000 as claimed by some quarters.
Currently SEB has appointed a consultant to carry out the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) reports and survey on the ground.
The project is expected to take off in 2018 and completed by 2020.
Ngau was commenting on some NGOs from his constituency who were in Kuala Lumpur to meet the federal government to air their grievances.
SAVE Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) which participated in the visit in Kuala Lumpur in its recent press statement claimed that the state government had acknowledged the failure of the Sg Asap resettlement for the Bakun mega-dam, while promising that mistakes would be rectified for subsequent mega-dams.
Unfortunately for the Penan and Kenyah communities of Murum, the same mistakes had been repeated it claimed.
The Save River members said none of the Barisan National MPs came to meet them even though an invitation had been sent to all MPs.