Friday, 8 October 2010


Immediate News Release

Miri (8 October 2010): Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE) calls upon the government, if any, the Emergency Rescue Plan (ERP) for Bakun dam be made public prior to action of impounding water for Bakun Dam.

SCANE warns the Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd not proceed with its flooding trial run for Bakun dam until an Emergency Rescue Plan (ERP) has been in place and the public at large have been adequately informed of the procedures laid down by the plan.

SCANE is deeply concerned with the safety and adverse impacts of the dam to the riverine communities living downstream and upstream of the dam. The downstream communities include the people of numerous longhouses along Rajang River who live directly below the dam and the residents of the Belaga township as well as other major towns such as Kapit, Song, Kanowit and Sibu. Within the impounding area, there are more than 100 native families living upstream, that is the Bakun dam’s reservoir and catchment area.

The Bakun dam, Malaysia's largest hydroelectric dam, is located on the Balui River in the upper Rejang River basin, some 37km upstream from Belaga township. Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated is the owner and developer of the dam.

To this day, the government and the authorities concerns have yet to announce any plan that would take into account the environmental catastrophe consequences of Bakun dam on downstream communities. So far, there has been no preparation on the part of the authorities to design relevant action plans that are able to address the problems that may arise downstream in the immediate future, as a result of the water impoundment of Balui River by the dam.

SCANE is aware of the existence of an Emergency Rescue Plan (ERP), which has been drawn up to prepare the concerned areas for the possible occurrence of dam failure, however this ERP is already too outdated as it has been designed more than ten (10) years ago. Therefore, it is premature action of the government and the dam developer(s) to impound water for the dam if new ERP is non-existent.

In any action of river impoundment that created large man-made lake by large dam like Bakun, it will cause environmental disorder that may lead to an unstable ecosystem which impacts would be disastrous and far reaching to human beings, wildlife and natural environment in the area.

As experience had shown in other parts of the world where similar large dams were built, many communities living along the downstream terrains of large dams have had to face grave dangers and suffer economic losses as a result of the construction of the dams.

In Belaga District, as well as those downstream communities, considering their vulnerable location, which is positioned exactly downstream of the dam, it is only natural that they harbour anxiety about the possibility of the dam suffering from any form of structural or functional failure for such a misfortune would surely result in huge financial losses and pose a threat to their safety and lives.

Meantime, while the ERP is yet to be drawn up, the Government (both State and Federal) should immediately resolve some of the distressing issues pertaining to the to the effects of the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam on the communities living upstream and downstream with regards to outstanding compensation on lands and properties and the resettlement of villages to new sites as well as adverse water pollution and river navigation problems to downstream communities.

Therefore, SCANE strongly calls upon the Government and Sarawak Hidro to immediately stop the plan of impounding Balui River, and demand that:

1. The Government to comprehensively disseminate information on the content of the Emergency Rescue Plan (EPR) of the Bakun Hydroelectric Project to the people residing downstream of the dam.

2. Memorandum of undertaking to be signed and issued to the downstream riverine communities to guarantee that in the event of any incidence of dam failure or damage, the Government or the project developer will be held accountable for the destruction and loss of properties and the suffering inflicted onto the communities.

This means that in the event of such an incidence, the Government or developer will bear the responsibility to pay adequate monetary compensation to the affected residents.

SCANE also urges the Government to carry out comprehensive and meaningful consultation process with the downstream communities with regards to the ERP.


Press Release and Statement Issued By:

Raymond Abin,

The National Coordinator

Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE)

H/P: MY +60 138449345 Call

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