Hornbill Unleashed

September 27, 2013

Murum Dam: Blockade intensifies as 100 Penans refuse to budge

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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This is a file photo from previous blockade staged by the Penans.Ng Ai Fern

This is a file photo from previous blockade staged by the Penans.
KUCHING (Sept 24): The ongoing blockade at the 944-megawatt Murum hydroelectric project (HEP) has intensified as some 100 Penans refused to move from the dam site until their long-standing demands are met.
The assurance from Belaga district officer together with two officers from State Planning Unit and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) who went to the site this morning had failed to resolve the matter.
“They were here to see the protest and we voiced our disappointment. But they did not promise to deliver our demands,” said one of the protesters Ngang.
The 42-year-old father of six from Long Singu, one of the six villages that would be flooded by the HEP, said it was his eighth day protesting at the dam site.
“We have been waiting for eight years. We will not dismantle the blockade this time until we get a definite answer,” Ngang told fz.com.
He said they had voiced their demands in 2007 including compensation for their lands, crops, houses and forests among others, totalling RM500,000 per family.
Other demands include 20,000 hectares of land per village, free housing, free water and electricity and royalty from the profits made from the HEP.
Instead, the authority has come up with a resettlement action plan which comprised compensation of RM10,000 per family and a monthly allowance of RM800 per family for the first three years after they have been resettled.
“They can handcuff us or arrest us. We are not afraid. We want an answer now or we will not move,” said Ngang, adding that none of them was informed of the impoundment which started last Saturday.
He said the police at scene ordered them to disperse as they had no right to block the place, but none of them has been arrested yet.
Sarawak Conservation Alliance of Natural Environment (SCANE) chairman Raymond Abin, meanwhile, urged the government to look seriously into the demands of the Penans.
He also called the SEB to immediately stop the impoundment of Murum Dam until the negotiations are concluded.
Raymond said the Penans had staged a blockade in August which lasted about three days after the authorities agreed to look into their demands. But this time round, they were determined to carry on the blockade until their demands are met.
Meanwhile, SEB had issued a statement clarifying that reservoir filling will take about 14 months for the water to reach its optimal level by which time the villagers would have already been relocated.
“SEB is engaging closely with them (Penans at the dam site), providing an assurance that the process follows our detailed planning.
The first batch of 89 Penan families from Long Wat (one of the villages affected by the Murum HEP impoundment) became the pioneer group to move into their new homes at the Tegulang Resettlement village on Sept 10, 2013.
However, despite the start of the impoundment, the remaining 264 Penan and Kenyah families from six villages affected by the project have remained adamant they would not move to either Metalun or Tegulang resettlement schemes as their demands have not been fulfilled by the relevant authorities.
The six villages are Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim, and Long Umpa, which are occupied by the Kenyah-Badeng tribe.
SEB also issued another statement, refuting rumours of a fire spread by certain NGOs on the Murum, saying that it was an attempt to cause panic among the public aimed at sabotaging the concerted efforts of bringing development to the people.
SEB stressed that the relocation was carried out in progress and the safety and well-being of the affected community was their key priority.
With regards to the fire in Long Wat which was allegedly committed by Sarawak Energy staff, SEB said it was “typical of the vile lies” propagated by the opponents of Sarawak Energy.
As to the Penans who gathered onsite, SEB said they are currently carrying out discussion on their requests ranging from faster relocation to the new longhouses to wanting clarification on the compensation packages.
“Although the general sentiment is towards wanting to have their compensation immediately and enjoy the same amenities and utilities as their Long Wat counterparts as fast as possible, the communities will be compensated and relocated as per the timelines set in accordance to the relocation schedule and guided by the approved Resettlement Action Plan,” it said.
The next area that will be relocated is Long Malim followed by  Long Tangau, Long Menapa and finally Long Luar and Long Singu. The relocation process for all communities will be completed by the end of the year.

1 Comment »

  1. Why build dam when you cannot provide pipe water to the natives?

    Comment by Alif Sobri — September 28, 2013 @ 12:15 PM | Reply

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