JAKARTA: A billion-dollar hydroelectric dam development in Indonesia that threatens the habitat of the world’s rarest great ape has sparked fresh concerns about the impact of China’s globe-spanning infrastructure drive. The site of the dam in the Batang Toru rainforest on Sumatra island is the only known habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, a newly discovered species that numbers about 800 individuals in total.
The $1.6 billion project, expected to be operational by 2022, will cut through the heart of the critically endangered animal’s habitat, also home to agile gibbons, siamangs and Sumatran tigers.Indonesian firm PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy is building the power plant with backing from Sinosure, a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) that insures overseas investment projects, and the Bank of China, company documents show.
Chinese SOE Sinohydro, which built the mammoth Three Gorges Dam, has been awarded the design and construction contract. The development is one of dozens being pushed by government to improve power supply in the sprawling archipelago, parts of which are plagued by blackouts. —Agencies