Baram Dam put on hold (Baleh Dam to go ahead first)

After out cry from indigenous groups and ally NGOs, the Baram dam has been up on hold! This is thrilling information for many of our allies in the Baram region. Now, however, the Baleh Dam, which is near the Murum and (infamous) Bakun dam, will now go ahead first. 

While this is exciting news, infrastructure for the Baram Dam, including bridges and roads, is still being built. It’s time to up the pressure against the Baram Dam and stop it once and for all! Check out this article from

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Baram Dam put on hold for now

Joseph Tawie


 | September 9, 2011

The dam will be built at a later date after problems with the Orang Ulu natives are sorted out.

KUCHING: The proposed Baram Dam is to be placed on hold following strong opposition from the Orang Ulu natives of Kayan, Kenyah and Penan communities – about 20,000 of whom face displacement as a result of the project.

Instead the proposed Baleh Dam, in the neighborhood of Murum and Bakun dams in the Kapit division is to be built first.

Construction of the Baleh Dam will start after the completion of the Murum Dam by the end of 2013, said Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management.

He said that the government decision to build the Baleh HEP dam first instead of the Baram Hydro Electricity Power (HEP) dam was because the Baleh dam project would affect a limited number of people upstream of the dam.

Moreover, both social and environmental assessment (SEIA) and technical reports on the proposed project have been completed.

“It will not affect the livelihood of many people, making it easier to implement as very little resettlement will be involved,” he said.

The cost of the project will be finalised after the completion of all the studies, he said.

The Baleh HEP dam which is expected to produce 1,295MW is one of the 12 dams to be constructed by the year 2020.

Of all the proposed dams, the Baram is the most controversial as it affects the lives of the Kayans, Kenyahs and Penans whose longhouses, their lands, their history and cultural heritage will be submerged in a lake of 389 sq km (38,900 hectares).

About 90% of the land submerged is native customary rights land.

Located between the inflows of Sungai Patah and Sungai Kahah from the left and Sungai Hit from the right, the dam will be 162m high above foundation level and its structure across the Baram River will have a crest length of 685m.

It will be constructed and designed as a roller-compacted concrete (RCC) gravity dam in order to produce 300MW of electricity.

Due to the topographical conditions in the project area, a 70m high saddle dam will be constructed approximately five km south-west of the project site.

Senseless exploitation

In a recent statement, the Kenyah Association in Miri called on the government to abandon the dam project as it is a ‘senseless’ exploitation of the Baram resources driven by greed and immorality.

“It is at the expense of the native communities,” said Peter Kallang, chairman of the association.

He said: “No one can blame us in thinking that the construction of the dam is a calculated, intentional and purposeful manoeuver to wipe out our races.

“It will not only cause the colossal environmental devastation and severe consequences on the ecosystem, but it will also cause a permanent degeneration of the ethnic identity and heritage of the natives who live in the region,” he added.

Meanwhile, three NGOs in a joint statement called on the state government of Sarawak to abide by the legal requirements before it can proceed with the construction of the Baram Dam, because until today, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and social environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for this dam have not been completed.

The statement was signed by Mark Bujang, executive director of Borneo Resources Institute of Malaysia, Philip Jau, chairman of Baram People Protection committee and Jok Jau Evong, field director of Sahabat Alam Malaysia, Marudi.

The state government and the Sarawak Electricity Board (SEB) have recently stated that they will fully comply with international standards when implementing the 12 proposed new dam projects in Sarawak including this controversial Baram Dam.

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The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.

India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.

Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

Comment by Jennifer — January 27, 2012

The dam is nothing more than an excuse for Taib and his cronies to enrich themselves to get contract for building the roads to the dam, maintain it, get contract for the dam or sub contract or supply material for the dam building. At the same time, they will get the state land around the dam for oil palm plantation. Get all the timber from the submerged land. They are real crooks chasing the Dayaks away from their ancestral lands.

Comment by Orang Ulu — June 10, 2012

Bakun hydro dam is a sample of uncompleted project for sarawak,why busy for new baram dam hydro supply..

Comment by dani apoi bilong — December 25, 2012

I totally disagreed with this project.i dont want to hunt BABUI far away.
Sedarlah,mereka akan tutup mlut dengan wang ringgit,tapi kita akn kembalikan wang ringgit itu dengan bayar bil,sewa,bil keperluan asas.
Sekarang kami dapt free ja air di kampung…

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Comment by parajumper jakke oslo — October 16, 2013

It is so good to know that James masing is asking Taib to build the Baleh dam first and we hope they will never build the Baram dam not even at a later date. We will see how rich and will off the Iban community there after the Dam is completed. We hope they give everyt0hing that they have to Taib and James Masing. We do not want to see the Iban complaining because they are the main supporters of Taib and BN. Good luck Baleh and all our Iban friend in baleh area. Maybe James Masing can give them rm1, 000, 000.00 to each family, 100 hecters of land and a big palace.

Comment by penanulat — November 8, 2013

No matter what and how SEB and Sarawak Government are going to persuade getting the dam construction materialised the people or the rakyat of Baram are not going to give in. To the Baram people no amount of money can lure them to loose the greatest and most precious ever God-given gift of all that we have been enjoying for generations(the lands, rivers, fishes, wild lives, the flora and fauna, etc). The dam therefore if stupidly allowed to be constructed is a gift from the devil, which thereby ending the livelihood, culture, traditions and social, moral, religious and recreational aspects and survival of the Baram people to be in jeopardy and destroyed forever. No, no, no, NO DAM. Sorry NO. NEGOTIATION. NO DAM means NO DAM. A lot more to tell why we oppose the dam,but that will be continued, God forbids. Yes, one thing I should mention, that is we Baram people reject the dam as a reason for the government to develop us. That billions allocated for the dam should be rechanneled for the construction of proper and decent roads system to all the Baram kampungs to enable have undisrupted and easy access to all towns in Sarawak thus boosting trade and business, tourism etc. Then only we will benefit and thus serve and satisfy frequently mentioned and promised ‘politics of development'; or else when is the government going to repay and compensate the billions of ringgit that the government had stolen and owed from the extraction of our timbers of our NCR lands since the sixties. Development has no meaning to us until we are given the privillege of having sealed roads like a few longhouses that have enjoyed them. To us it is not the cost and length of the roads leading to our longhouses that matter. It is the right of each longhouse being treated equally to enjoy. The money used to contruct a one-kilometre or more tar-sealed road to a longhouse that already have them are our money also. That is rakyat’s money also, but why don’t the government build for us. Don’t say the government has no fund or money, but look, how much wealth have the timber companies like Samling and all the others accumulated. They had built empires. They can even buy the whole Sarawak! The Baram people remain poor, and even worse if the dam is going to be built.

Comment by Lerek Abe' — November 11, 2013

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