Malaysiakini NEWS

Controversial Baram Dam cancelled, natives rejoice

Published:  |  Modified:

Baram villagers yesterday rejoiced when they learned that the Sarawak government has revoked the gazette extinguishing their customary rights to land earmarked for a dam and its reservoir.

Their lawyer, Harrison Ngau, received a notification on the repeal from the state legal office, in a letter dated March 15.

The gazette was repealed on Feb 18, the letter revealed.

This comes as Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem hints that the dissolution of the state legislative assembly could be in a matter of “days”.

The dam is a key contention in Baram, which was a hotly-contested Parliament seat in the 2013 general election. The BN candidate won by a razor-thin 194 votes against PKR.

The two state seats under the rural seat of Baram are Telang Usan and Marudi.

The villagers of Long Keseh, Na’ah and Long Tap took the government to court on the two gazettes for the Baram Dam.

The gazettes were for the dam site and the land acquired for the dam reservoir when it is impounded.

The gazettes extinguished the rights of 20,000 people from about 30 villages to their native customary land.

Blockades against the dam were set up in October 2013.

Adenan announced a moratorium on work on the Baram Dam last July.

In a statement late yesterday, native rights and environmental group Save Rivers said this was the fruit of a long battle fought by the villagers.

“I congratulate the people of Baram for this great success and I pray that they will continue to fight for their rights and protection of the environment,” Save Rivers chairperson Peter Kallang said.

“I hope that the chapter on Baram Dam is now permanently closed.”

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