Monday, November 29, 2010

No free houses, land for those affected by Bakun dam

Thu, 25 Nove 2010 18:20

By Patrick Lee

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has never promised to give free houses and farmlands to those displaced by the construction of the Bakun hyro-electric dam.

Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin told the Dewan Rakyat this after Sungai Siput MP D Jeyakumar asked about the promises of free houses and five acres of farmland for the Sungai Balui residents in Belaga.

Instead, he said that each family would be given a certain amount of compensation for the land, house and farming land affected by the dam's construction.

The deputy minister also added that community halls and main roads leading to Bakun from these resettlement villages would be constructed as well.

Awang said that each family received an average of RM51,980 in compensation.

He also said that the state government would reduce the price of houses sold to former Sungai Balui residents by 50%, or by RM25,000 per unit.

Awang also said that families whose houses were worth less than RM25,000 would be given a loan to purchase these houses.

He said that the federal government had allocated a total of RM534.05 million to the Sarawak government for communities affected by the construction of the Bakun hyro-electric dam in 2005.

Major concern

The deputy minister added that this money would then be managed by the Sarawak state authorities.

Jeyakumar told the House that he had worked in the area in 1984, and visited many of the places that would be affected by the dam's construction.

"My friends who live there tell me that they have encountered many problems after they have been resettled," the MP said, adding that job opportunities were a major concern for many of Belaga's former inhabitants.

"In the new place, they have no work, and many men of working age have to work (in cities) far away, such as Sibu and Kuching," he said, adding that many of the locals were farmers and were only able to find low-paying jobs in the city.

Jeyakumar then asked Awang if it was possible to give these people more farmland.

"Three acres is not enough. What about other places in the interior? Can they be opened for farming? Can new larger locations, or in the lower areas (tanah hilir) be given to them?" he asked.

Although not directly answering Jeyakumar's question, Awang agreed and said that the matter needed to be given more consideration.

He, however, assured the Sungai Siput MP that job opportunities would be made available at the Bakun dam itself when it becomes fully operational in 2011.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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