Residents from longhouses affected by the proposed Baram Dam want are asking for all relevant impact assessment reports before the project is approved by the authorities, reports Mark Bujang.
MIRI – Representative of residents from longhouses affected directly by the proposed Baram Dam have applied for a copy of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Social Environmental Impact Assessment Report or any other report(s) on studies currently being carried out before it is approved by the relevant agencies or authorities.
In a letter signed by representatives of the residents and concerned citizens and addressed to the Controller of the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB), they requested that they should be given an opportunity and sufficient time to verify, study, comment and/or make objections on the EIA, SEIA or any other report(s) before it is being approved and works on the proposed dam can begin.
The letter also states that, the group objects to the commencement of any work including construction of any access roads to the site of the proposed dam and to the extinguishing of their native customary rights (NCR) over their native customary land pending their scrutiny of the reports.
On 22 -23 April, a group of concerned residents attended a two-day seminar entitled “Mega Dam Projects: Happiness or a Disaster?” organised by the Baram Residents Action Committee (JTPB) at Telang Usan Hotel, Miri.
During the seminar, it was clear that all of the residents that attended do not agree to the proposed building of the Baram Dam.
Among the main concerns of the residents are what will happen to their land once the dam is built and water starts inundating their villages. Where are they going to be resettled? How much will the people be burdened by the cost of the dams?
The residents also do not want a repeat of the Bakun resettlement fiasco; they want this project to be scrapped altogether as there is clearly no justification for it to be built as the energy generated by the 2,400 MW Bakun Dam is more than sufficient for the energy needs of Sarawak for many years to come.
Mark Bujang is the Executive Director of the Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas)