MIRI: Human rights organisations and environmental groups have blasted the Sarawak government's decision to go ahead with the construction of the mega Baram Dam in northern Sarawak.
The project - located between Long Kesseh and Long Naah, some 200km inland from Miri - is expected to uproot more than 20,000 people and drown huge traits of forests.
Kuala Lumpur-based Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) and Miri-based Save Sarawak Rivers criticised the decision by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem over the greenlight given to Sarawak Energy Bhd to proceed with preparations for ground construction.
JOAS president Thomas Jalong and Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang both described the approval of the dam project as an act of gross injustice to the affected natives living in the 25 settlements.
Jalong told The Star on Sunday that the decision by the state government was "shameful".
"It is a shameful attempt by the state government to force this massive project on defenceless poor natives.
"Global organisations had already carried out so many studies that showed that energy needs can be met through less destructive micro projects, and yet the Sarawak government is going ahead with the Baram Dam that will cause massive environment destruction," he said.
Kallang, who is also Orang Ulu National Association chairman for Miri, said the 20,000 affected people had never been consulted.
"Those community leaders who said they support the project are actually government servants as they receive salaries from the state government.
"The state government has committed a serious injustice against the natives who have been living for centuries in the Baram forests," he said.
Kallang said Save Sarawak Rivers would continue to protest and block the access road into the Baram Dam site to prevent construction work from proceeding.