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Batang Toru dam, North Sumatra, Indonesia

A dam has been proposed in a high-value conservation area in Indonesia that is home to the few remaining members of a rare orangutan species.


The Batang Toru hydropower project is a proposed dam in the central part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The project has been controversial since the proposal was made public in 2012 due to its high environmental impact in a high-value conservation area.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Batang Toru dam, North Sumatra, Indonesia
State or province:North Sumatra
Location of conflict:Batang Toru
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Capacity: 510Mw

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Project area:645
Level of Investment:1,600,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
Relevant government actors:North Sumatera government, Indonesian government
International and Finance InstitutionsBank of China from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Walhi (, Sumatran Orangutan Society (,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
[9] On 6th October 2019, Golfrid Siregar, lawyer, human right defender and environmental activist from Walhi North Sumatra died at the Adam Malik General Hospital after being treated since Thursday, October 3, 2019
Development of alternatives:Activists and scientists proposed to completely halt the construction of the dam to ensure that the habitat of the tapanuli orangutan is preserved.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the international outcry due to the environmental concerns of the dam, the project is still ongoing
Sources & Materials

[8] Hydroelectric Dam Threatens to Wipe Out World's Rarest Ape, National Geographic, August 9, 2018
[click to view]

[2] How we discovered a new species of orangutan in northern Sumatra, The Conversation, November 6, 2017
[click to view]

[5] Batang Toru dam will affect orangutans and villagers: Walhi, Jakarta Post, September 21, 2018
[click to view]

[3] World’s newest great ape threatened by Chinese dam, The Guardian, April 23, 2018
[click to view]

[4] Scientists urge Indonesian president to nix dam in orangutan habitat, Mongabay, July 13, 2018
[click to view]

[1] New great ape species identified in Indonesia, BBC, November 2, 2017
[click to view]

[6] Protest against hydropower plant in Sumatra ends with injuries, Mongabay, September 14, 2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Cerita Masyarakat Batang Toru. Walhi Sumatera Utara
[click to view]

DIALOG - Misteri Meninggalnya Aktivis HAM Sumatera Utara Golfrid Siregar Usai Menghilang
[click to view]

WALHI JAMBI Facebook. 6 de octubre at 16:31
[click to view]

[9] DIALOG - Misteri Meninggalnya Aktivis HAM Sumatera Utara Golfrid Siregar Usai Menghilang
[click to view]

[10] WALHI JAMBI Facebook. 6 de octubre at 16:31
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Laura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update19/11/2018
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