No Baram dam, no problem: Villagers build own micro hydro plant

Villagers work on the micro hydro project January 14,2019. — Picture courtesy of SAVE Rivers
Villagers work on the micro hydro project January 14,2019. — Picture courtesy of SAVE Rivers

MIRI, Jan 14 — The villagers of Long Liam, an Orang Ulu longhouse in the deep interior of Baram who were among the thousands opposing the construction of a mega dam in their area, now have their own version of a dam in the form of a micro hydro project (MHP).

Inaugurated over the weekend, the MHP was built by the villagers themselves with guidance from NGOs SAVE Rivers, Tonibung, Bruno Manser Fund, Green Empowerment, and Seacology.

SAVE Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the MHP is of great significance to the villagers.

“With this project, we show how rural electrification can look like without large dams. Development is possible without destructive dams,” he said in a media statement.

He said the villagers have requested the state government to support efforts to protect the water catchment area for their village.

“Logging in the water catchment area would lead to siltation and threaten the long-term sustainability of the micro hydro project,” he said.

Former chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, in 2015 cancelled the 1,200 megawatts Baram dam that would have displaced some 20,000 villagers had its construction gone ahead.

Kallang said SAVE Rivers will hold a conference on clean energy collaboration in Kuching on March 15 to 16 this year, to be attended by government officials, international and local energy experts, industry representatives, and grassroots communities.

“The goal is to discuss concrete pathways to achieve economically and environmentally sustainable energy systems that address energy poverty and energy needs for development in Malaysia,” he said.

He said SAVE Rivers supports sustainable development and it is ready to discuss and cooperate with the state and federal governments on sustainable energy.

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