Exclusive: Sarawak Dams to Flood 2,300 Km2 of Rainforests
Exclusive: Sarawak Dams to Flood 2,300 Km2 of
Rainforests, Displace Tens of Thousands of
30,000 to 50,000 indigenous people to pay the price for Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s excessive dam plans in Malaysian Borneo
(KUCHING, SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) A new map released by the Bruno Manser Fund ahead of the International Hydropower Association’s World Congress in Kuching, Sarawak, is showing the massive detrimental effect of the Malaysian state’s dam plans on indigenous peoples and the Borneo rainforest.
According to calculations by the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund, the dams, if realized, would flood over 2,300 km2 of tropical rainforests and native lands. This corresponds to one and a half times the area of Greater London.
Sarawak Energy, the state’s power monopolist, is planning to realize the dams by 2020. They would directly and indirectly affect at least 235 indigenous settlements with an estimated population of between 30'000 and 50'000 people.
The eleven dams, of which two have already been completed and one is currently under construction, would have an installed capacity of 7165 MW – seven times the current peak demand. According to the Sarawak state government, the dams should produce the power for new energy-intensive industries.
Ciritics, however, are saying that the dam frenzy would mainly benefit companies linked to the family of the Sarawak Chief Minister, such as Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS). CMS holds a monopoly over cement production in the East Malaysian state.
One of CMS’ largest shareholders is the late wife of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Four years after her death in 2009, Lejla Taib is still the registered owner of 11.48% of the company’s shares.