Hornbill Unleashed

October 12, 2012

Feedback on plight of Penans affected by Murum dam sought

Sulok Tawie

Liwan says the two sites were identified by the Penans themselves

The Sarawak State Planning Unit (SPU) is calling on the public and interested parties to submit written comments and suggestions on the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) Report on the proposed Metalun Resettlement and Tegulang Resettlement sites for the Penans affected by the Murum dam.

SPU is also asking for comments and suggestions on the Murum Service Centre.

The construction of the RM3 billion dam, about 75km upstream from the RM7.5 blllion Bakun dam, has attracted much international attention, especially from non-governmental organisations, as it will displace about 1,500 Penans from eight villages and Kenyahs from another village, in Belaga district.

Over 300 Penans are now blockading access road to Murum dam since Sept 26 in protest against its construction, and the failure on the part of the State Government and the dam’s proponent Sarawak Energy Berhad to meet the community’s demands.

When completed before the end of next year, the dam will be capable of generating 944 MW of electricity.

In its first notification issued today, SPU said that the state environmental authority, the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), is reviewing the SEIA Report for the two resettlement sites and service centre.

It said that the public and interested parties may review the report from Oct 11 to Nov 9, 2012 and forward written comments and suggestions to NREB headquarters at 18th -20th Floors, Menara Pelita, Tun Abdul Rahman Yaakub Road, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, on or before Nov 24, 2012.

They can go to NREB headquarters, NREB offices in Sibu and Bintulu, Department of Environment Office at Wisma STA in Kuching, Sarawak State Library in Kuching, the Resident’s Offices of Bintulu and Kapit Divisions, Belaga District Office and Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme in Belaga, to review the report.

Meanwhile, Belaga State Assemblyman Liwan Lagang said that the two sites are chosen by the Penans themselves a year ago.

“I was accompanying them when they identified these two sites, so there is no question of the government forcing them to accept the sites,” Liwan, who is also the Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage, said when contacted.

He said that the proposed Metalun resettlement site is over one hour drive, on logging track, upstream from the Murum dam.
“Metalun is on Periran River, a tributary of Murum River,” he added.

Liwan said that Tegulang site is not very far from the dam.

“It is situated downstream of the dam and situated along the bank of Tegulang River, also a tributary of Murum River,” he added.

He said he is not sure the acreages of these two sites.

Meanwhile, SAVE Rivers network, a NGO based in Miri, questioned the rationale of putting up the first notification now when the dam is about 75 % completed.

“SEIA Report should have been completed and reviewed by the public and affected Penans during the planning stage of the project,” SAVE Rivers secretary Mark Bujang said when asked for his comments.

“But where is the SEIA Report for the dam itself?” he asked, urging the state government and Sarawak Energy Berhad to be transparent in the dam construction.

He said that SEIA Report has remained unknown to the public.

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