Baram residents fear a repeat of Bakun fiasco


By G Vinod

MIRI: The Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia today said the residents of longhouses near the proposed Baram dam in Sarawak do not want to see another repeat of the Bakun resettlement fiasco.

Its executive director Mark Bujang said that the people in the affected area want the project to be scrapped altogether.

Bujang said this was clearly expressed by the locals during a two-day seminar organised by the Baram Residents Action Council at Telang Usan Hotel here.

“The residents have voiced concerns of their fate once the dam is built.

“They are wondering what will happen to their land once its waters inundate their villages... how are they going to be resettled and how much it will cost them,” he said.

He added that a main concern was a potential repeat of what had happened to the locals who were displaced for the Bakun dam since 2001.

The Bakun dam saw about 10,000 natives being forced out from their land by the government for a project to generate an energy surplus for the state. The ruckus has fuelled anger among its natives who have been deprived of their native customary land.

In addition, those affected by the Bakun dam were also not properly compensated for their losses.

Bujang also queried the need for another dam as he feels Bakun itself is sufficient to cater for the needs of Sarawakians.

“There is no reason why another dam is needed as Bakun itself generates about 2,400MW of energy, which is more than enough for the state in years to come,” he added.

In a letter signed by representatives of the residents and concerned citizens, they have asked the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environmental Board to provide them access to a copy of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Environmental Impact Assessment reports and any other relevant documents for their study.

“The agency should also give us enough time to verify, study, comment or make objections on the reports before it decides on anything,” Bujang said.

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