Of the 12 dams planned in Sarawak, the 1,200 MW Baram Dam is next in line to begin construction. The dam has triggered frequent protests and opposition from indigenous people living near the dam.
If the dam is built, up to 20,000 indigenous people living in 26 villages would be displaced. The Sarawak government has already extinguished the land rights of some indigenous communities living near the Baram Dam site and has started to build access roads, although the project has not yet been formerly approved. About 90% of the 388 square kilometer area to be flooded by the Baram Dam will be the lands of indigenous peoples.
The Sarawak government-owned company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), is leading development of the project. No builder has been announced for the Baram Dam, although it is widely expected to be China Three Gorges Corporation or Sinohydro, the two Chinese state-owned dam builders that are currently involved in the construction of the Murum Dam. Reportedly, the two companies will move their construction equipment to Baram after completing the Murum Dam in 2013. Construction is expected to begin in 2014.
SEB is currently conducting an environmental and social impact assessment for the project and has begun consultations with local communities. There is no indication that the Sarawak government intends to seek the communities’ free, prior and informed consent before beginning construction, as required under international law. In August 2013, the Sarawak government took the first steps to extinguish the land rights of indigenous peoples living near the dam site without their consent. A network of indigenous activists, called SAVE Rivers, has led efforts to raise awareness of the Baram Dam's risks among local communities.
- Visit our webpage on the Sarawak Dams
- Sarawak Moves to Take Over 4,000 Hectares for Baram Dam (Malaysian Insider, 6 August 2013)
- Megadam Project Galvanizes Native Opposition in Malaysia (National Geographic, 27 Feb. 2013)
- Sold Down the River: How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia’s Indigenous Peoples (Bruno Manser Fonds, Nov. 2012)
- Fooling China's Dam Builders (ChinaDialogue article, 6 April 2012)