The Murum dam is the first hydroelectric project (HEP) to be developed by Sarawak Energy since Batang Ai HEP in the 1980s. The dam uses the power of the flow of water through turbines (four sets of 236MW Francis turbine generating units) to generate 944MW of electricity. The main EPC (Engineer, Procure, Construct) contractor is Three Gorges Dam Company (Malaysia) while Sarawak Energy acts as the project proponent in building the dam.
The Murum dam is a Roller-Capacity Concrete dam with a height of 141m and a catchment area of 2,750km. The size of the reservoir is 245km.
The SEIA Study commenced in October 2009 and was undertaken by Chemsain Consultants Sdn Bhd of Sarawak. The study has recently been completed and will be released for public disclosure and comment.
Based on the Household Register carried out as part of the Contemporary Ethnography Study of the Murum Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) Study, a total of 1,304 Penan (335 households) and 113 Kenyah Badeng (18 households) in three areas – Plieran, Seping and Danum, are affected by the Murum HEP project and will be resettled to the new resettlement areas8.
The first round of community consultation on the dam took place in November 1994 as part of the then Murum Hydroelectric Project feasibility study. Active community consultation commenced in August 2008 involving the State, the District Office and the directly affected communities. Subsequently, village to village dialogue sessions were held.
Since then, the State Government and Sarawak Energy have recorded 40 planned community consultations and another 50 committed informal meetings with the project affected communities, and these engagements continue on a monthly basis with the Sarawak Energy Community Engagement Team and district officers.
The consultation involved visits to the directly affected longhouses in order to discuss the proposed project and consult with them with regard to all aspects of their proposed resettlement in order to reach amiable consent for the affected communities, the government and the project proponent.
Contrary to allegations, the Penans were consulted starting from January 2010 on the resettlement sites. By the end of the same year, the seven directly affected communities had identified and confirmed their choice of the two resettlement sites at Metalun and Tegulang.
The State government is committed in ensuring that the local Penan communities who will be directly affected by the proposed project, will be properly compensated and resettled and that their livelihood and well-being will not be worse off than before the proposed project.
In August and September 2011, the sites for the seven new longhouse communities in the two resettlement sites were pegged by the communities themselves with the participation of the State Government including the Land and Survey Department, and Sarawak Energy.
Not only did the directly affected Penans and the Kenyans given the choice on the sites for the construction of their new longhouses, but they have also been actively involved in the design of them.
The compensation policy will be guided by existing policies of the government. Among others, land-related issues will be guided by the Sarawak Land Code on land, crops and fruit trees by the Land and Survey Department, and graves and cultural heritage by the Museum Department.
The properties that are eligible for consideration of compensation are:
Most of the key elements of the compensation package for affected communities were approved by the Government in February 2011 and communicated to the affected people.
The relocation of the first affected communities is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2013 and be completed in the third quarter of 2013.
The livelihood restoration programmes will be ongoing until 2020.
The proposed Baram dam is a hydroelectric project (HEP) that uses the power of the flow of water through turbines (four sets of Francis turbine generating units) to generate 1,200MW of electricity.
The Baram dam is a Roller-Capacity Concrete dam with a height of 168.5m and a catchment area of 8,978km². The size of the reservoir is 388km².
The proposed Baram dam is likely to be built on the stretch of the Baram River between Long Naha’a and Long Keseh, subject to confirmation of the site investigations and the SEIA study which are now being carried out.
Sarawak Energy’s is also conducting site investigations to get more technical data concerning the suitability of the rock for supporting the proposed dam and for use as material for constructing the proposed dam.
The construction of the dam will take about five years but the flooding of the reservoir will be within the first two or three years.
The flooding of the reservoir may take place about three years after construction starts. The precise date of the flooding will be decided when the proposed project completes the SEIA and obtains all the approvals from the NREB and consent from relevant parties.
An earlier feasibility study carried out by an independent consultant (Fichtner GmbH & Co KG) commissioned by Sarawak Energy estimates that 6,000 to 8,000 people will be directly affected by the Baram dam from 32 longhouses. This number has also been verified by the Miri Resident’s office. They are mostly of the Kenyah, Kayan and Penan communities.
The exact number will be determined by the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) Study on the proposed Baram Dam which commenced in October 2012. The SEIA study will develop the Household Register as a basis for planning any proposed resettlement in the future.
Sarawak needs the electricity that will be supplied by the Baram dam because demand for energy from energy intensive SCORE customers exceeds current supply. The electricity from the Bakun and Murum dams has already been sold to energy intensive customers who have invested in Sarawak.
The additional electricity from the Baram dam will be taken up by other customers seeking energy that have been proposed for immediate implementation in SCORE and other areas of Sarawak.
The development of the proposed Baram dam can also benefit the people of Baram as a result of the development of a major road to gain access to the dam site. This major access road in Baram will provide an opportunity for the communities in Baram to be more efficiently connected to the towns and markets along the coast. By reorganising themselves and their communities into stronger units and working together to raise their farm output with surplus for sale in markets outside their communities, as part of the normal development progress envisaged for Sarawak.
In a nutshell, the proposed Baram dam can be a catalyst for development in Baram if the project goes ahead and a final investment decision taken. The proposed dam can provide the local communities with benefits that include work opportunities, new and better homes, roads, schools and infrastructure development.
Sarawak Energy together with the Sarawak State Government will consult with the directly affected communities before proceeding with the construction of the proposed Baram dam.
The consultation takes the form of a formal presentation, feedback from the affected communities, and then discussion. Each consultation session will be properly documented so that what transpires during the consultation is clear. The consultation will be undertaken as part of the SEIA study and is called the SEIA process.
Since August 2011, Sarawak Energy has been consulting with community leaders and more recently has visited all 32 affected longhouses to inform and educate the population about the project and the planned SEIA.
The compensation will be guided by existing policies of the Government. Among other, land-related issues will be guided by the Sarawak Land Code on land, crops and fruit trees by the Land and Survey Department, and graves and cultural heritage by the Museum Department.
The compensation will mostly be replacement in kind, such as housing and land. Compensation in cash will be made when the lost assets cannot be immediately replaced, such as crops and fruit trees. Ex-gratia payments may be made if there are claims to the lost assets for which there is no legal or documentary proof.
The properties that are eligible for consideration of compensation or ex-gratia payments are:
The size of the land will depend on the needs of the directly affected communities to support their families at the resettlement area.
The final decision on the size of land at the resettlement area will be made as a result of consultation and usually compromise between the affected communities and the government. It will also take in account the recommendations of the SEIA study on the proposed Baram dam.
The policy on compensation is as provided by the Sarawak National Land Code, the Land and Survey Department and the Museum Department. Compensation is not a simple matter which means a simple formula on compensation is not easy to come up with.
The graves that are eligible for compensation, i.e. submerged or exhumed, will be based on the findings of the SEIA Study on the proposed Baram Dam as approved by the Museum Department.
The new resettlement area has not yet been identified. There are proposals by various parties where the potential sites for resettlement might be. Sarawak Energy expect the directly affected communities to have different ideas as to where they might be resettled as well.
The final decision on the exact resettlement site will be agreed on by the directly affected communities themselves and the Government.
Compensation is the result of consultation and cooperation between the directly affected communities and the government. The purpose of consultation and cooperation is to ensure that the final compensation will be satisfactory to the majority of the affected people and the government.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT (SEIA)
The Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) study is a detailed report of the Hydropower projects. The study is crucial in assessing the feasibility of constructing any proposed dams in the state. The ultimate purpose of the SEIA Study is to identify impact and mitigating measures for all major impacts identified in the study.
All SEIA Studies comprise of three major reports:
(a) the SEIA on the Proposed HEP
(b) the Contemporary Ethnography Study
(c) the Proposed Resettlement Action Plan
The SEIA is subject to the laws of Sarawak and guided by the Equator Principles, IHA guidelines and UNDRIP. For instance, the SEIA process for dams in Sarawak draws upon key elements of internationally accepted consultation which are “free, prior and informed” consultation leading to consent, as well as the rights of indigenous people to have access to land on which they can work to sustain their livelihood.
The aspirations captured in UNDRIP have been taken seriously in all SEIA Study. In particular, the State acknowledges the importance of land to the daily livelihood and culture of the indigenous people to which serious consideration has been made in the proposed Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) to ensure that there is sufficient land for the daily survival and future livelihood of the directly affected communities.
The rationale behind “free, prior and informed” consultation is to arrive at mutually consent so that significant development projects can be implemented for the improvement of the affected communities and the economy as a whole. Where possible, resettlement should be voluntary. If voluntary resettlement cannot be achieved, a compromise is called for with the end result that the livelihood of the directly affected communities are restored or, within the resources of the Government improved.
The SEIA process is designed to ensure the implementation of large development projects in Sarawak is done with due respect and regard to the welfare of the affected communities and the people of the State.