Malaysian state scales back Borneo dam plans after tribes, NGOs protest
KUCHING, Malaysia (AFP) - A Malaysian state minister on Friday said the government would not push ahead with controversial plans to build 12 dams on Borneo island, after outrage from local tribes and environmentalists.
The proposals sparked fears that the dams would destroy pristine rainforests, endanger wildlife, and displace natives in Sarawak, a Malaysian state crossed by powerful rivers with rich jungle habitats.
"It is not a firm plan to build 12 dams. I don't think we will need that. We will only need four of them," Mr James Masing, Sarawak's state minister of land development, told AFP in an interview.
He said the government was backing off in response to widespread criticism. Protests over the years have seen activists and locals staging blockades of roads into dam areas.