Community Protests Tampur Hydroelectric Power Plant in the Leuser Ecosystem

The government of Aceh is planning to construct a hydroelectric power plant in the Leuser Ecosystem, within a designated protected forest area, precisely in Tampur, Gayo Lues Regency. The hydroelectric power plant is planned to be built with a 173.5 meter dam and a 697.4 million cubic meter reservoir, to produce 428 megawatts of power. The reservoir area is estimated to cover 4,000 hectares with a 275 KVA high-voltage air transmission network.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 hectares of Leuser forest will be turned into lakes and that dozens of families living in Lesten, Gayo Lues District will need to be relocated. The Aceh Environmental Impact Analysis Commission (AMDAL) has approved the project through a court hearing held on December 28, 2016. Aceh AMDAL said the Tampur hydroelectric development plan would be acceptable and environmentally feasible if the feedback of the AMDAL technical team commission members was incorporated.

The village of Lesten will be displaced and flooded if the 173.5m mega-hydro dam is to go forward. Photo credit: Shayne McGrath

The Gayo Lues Regency community, who are members of Harimau Pining Forest and River Guard Forum, have protested this planned project. Community members want any kind of destructive activity in the Leuser Ecosystem to be stopped, including the hydroelectric power plant. The area where the project is proposed is rich in biodiversity and other community assets, such as fisheries in the rivers that run from Pining to Lesten.

DRONE_FOOTAGE_PINING_1.jpg Pining village, 16 km upstream from the proposed dam location, is reliant on the Lesten river. Village members are dedicated to protecting the rivers and forests of the Leuser Ecosystem. Photo credit: Shayne McGrath

This hydroelectric project will threaten the health of the community who has relied on fresh water from the Tamiang river that flows from the Leuser Ecosystem into the Malacca Strait for generations. This river is an important source of the community’s livelihood. They rely on it and the surrounding forests in the Tampur area to find fish and non-timber forest products such as rattan and honey.

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