River Diversion & Closure of Upper Batang Baleh to Commence on Monday

Community & River Users Informed

2 OCTOBER 2020

River diversion and closure will commence on Monday, 5 October 2020, where a stretch of the upper Batang Baleh will be closed to the general public. This will enable construction works on the main dam of the Baleh Hydroelectric Project (HEP) to begin.

Entry into the danger zone within the 1KM radius from the diversion tunnels area is strictly prohibited. Safety signboards have been installed along the riverbank to notify river users that they are approaching the danger zone.

Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) has also issued a public notice in the media on the river diversion and members of the public are advised to take note and comply with SRB’s navigation rules.

Water from upstream Batang Baleh adjacent to the confluence of the Putai River will be diverted through dual concrete-lined tunnels running in parallel to each other over a length of 1.2KM.

With this critical project milestone reached in September, the area immediately surrounding the project site has been declared a restricted area and off-limits to general use as dam construction can now begin. However, users of the river have been provided with an alternative route by Sarawak Energy through a bypass road connecting the two closed-off sections.

Water levels will remain unaffected downstream and upstream of the closed area, with commuting still possible. Rest houses located on the opposite banks of the diversion tunnels have been built with boat docking facilities, and this will be managed by the local community.

Stakeholder engagements for those affected began well in advance with close consultation and updates to local communities and leaders, elected representatives and the relevant government officials. This has enabled Sarawak Energy’s project delivery team to understand and address concerns during the preparation phase. The rest houses were suggested by the stakholders as a result of the engagements.

Guided by Sarawak’s Ministry of Utilities, the agencies consulted included Kapit’s Resident Office, Bukit Mambong District Office, Land and Survey Department Sarawak, Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board, Department of Irrigation and Drainage Sarawak and Sarawak Rivers Boards among others.

Ir Pramod Kumar Karunakaran, Executive Vice President for Project Delivery said, “The team has been preparing for months to ensure the safe completion of this milestone for minimal impact on our stakeholders. We also want to ensure that our river diversion work does not compromise the safety of river users."

“Together with Bukit Mambong District Office, our Project Team engaged affected communities on the matter, informed them on the new by-pass route and the facilities prepared for their convenience and most importantly on the safety aspects when commuting close by the project’s restricted zone.”

For queries, please contact Sarawak Energy’s Baleh HEP Helpline at 019-8828641.

An illustration of river diversion.

An example of the safety signboards installed to mark the danger zone.

Location map of the Baleh Hydroelectric Project.