KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The many statements, rumours and commentaries by parties external to Sarawak Energy, regarding compensation packages highlighted in the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) of the Murum Hydroelectric Project (HEP) have caused confusion among the affected communities. Using this confusion, certain NGOs have instigated the communities to lobby for additional compensation packages that are unrealistic, unachievable and in contradiction to the growth and the development that the HEPs will deliver to all Sarawakians. As such, this recent escalation of misinformation campaigning by certain NGOs and anti-dam proponents must be addressed before their fictional commentary shines the negative global spotlight on Sarawak or halts the State's ability to deliver sustainable growth and development to all of the 2.5 million residents of the State.
Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, CEO of Sarawak Energy said: "There are two things to consider here. Firstly, Sarawak's 2.5 million population wants development and the benefits that development brings such as higher salaries, better infrastructure, upgraded medical facilities and world class education. Secondly the HEP affected indigenous communities of Murum are currently living well below the poverty line and the State Government wants all Sarawakians to live above the poverty line. Why shouldn't Sarawakians be able to taste the fruits of development enjoyed by citizens of the more developed nations?"
Sarawak's competitive advantage in hydropower has been identified as the best and fastest strategy to propel the desired development and also reaches the people in the interior who are in dire need of better infrastructure, amenities and facilities. The certain NGOs' demands to halt the hydropower projects would diminish the State's ability to invest on the developments that Sarawakians want and also continues to keep the affected indigenous communities below the poverty line. In order to deliver on this growth for all to enjoy, the State needs the development that the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) projects bring. The companies setting up operations in SCORE and have already signed PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with Sarawak Energy accounting for over RM13.62bil in investment to the State, with a number of additional negotiations underway to bring in even more investors. This investment brings with it an initial boom for the construction sector and workforce, but this is then followed by sustained skilled labour opportunities both at the production level but also at the downstream and supplier levels as well.
During the development of these HEPs, we continue to strive to meet the best-practices and international standards as laid out in UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous People) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Protocol. Sarawak Energy's development of the Murum HEP is also under close observation from the State Government and the project regulator, the State Planning Unit (SPU). It is this commitment to transparency, adopting of international best-practices and standards that saw Sarawak Energy and the State Government release the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) publicly in May 2013.
Contrary to the impression painted by some, this relocation plan is sustainable for the community as it is complemented by temporary Government support programmes up to the year 2020.
For Murum RAP, the affected communities will receive the following items WORTH more than RM600,000-00 per household:
- 15 hectares of land per household on the basis of one (1) hectare per household for community purposes, and 14 hectares for agriculture
- Forest access to wildlife and forest produce - total area of up to 20,000 hectares
- RM15,000 cash payment per household upon relocation (that includes ex-gratia payment, moving grant and traditional ritual ceremonies)
- Temporary Income Support valued at RM850 a month from the time they are resettled at the new resettlement village
- Free housing - One unit of longhouse per family of 1,300 sq. ft.
- Clean and stable water supply
- Electricity supply with subsidized monthly allocation of RM40 per family
- Integrated community halls with chapel and kindergarten
- Medical assistance
- Own garden plot per family
Complementing the compensation scheme is a temporary Government support program that has been planned for up to the year 2020. This facilitates sustainable living for communities relocated to the new resettlement villages. It is sustainable enough to lift the affected communities above the poverty line.
In addition to the ongoing 'Literacy Programme' and helping the affected communities register for official Identity Cards, during the resettlement phase, Sarawak Energy has provided additional support to ease their transition to new resettlement site by giving food assistance, kitchen utensils, household items, television and "ASTRO NJOI" (Malaysia cable TV).
The Murum HEP has come under attack from domestic and international NGOs, with many malicious allegations and baseless accusations being bandied around. Sarawak Energy absolutely rejects these allegations especially in light of the company's and State's efforts to provide all Sarawakians with better living standards, and higher disposable income.
Speaking about the development standards, Torstein said, "As with any project undertaken over the world, there are always improvements that can be made and lessons learned. We have adopted international standards in our delivery of the Murum HEP and if we undertake another hydropower project in the future, we continue to follow these standards, add new processes and improve, taking into account the best practices learned during the development of the Murum HEP."
"We have been transparent and provided regular updates to all stakeholders. If anyone has any questions, we urge them to contact us directly via email at email@example.com. We would also look forward to hearing from the very vocal NGOs, action groups currently presenting in Geneva and the organisation who nominated Sarawak Energy for the Public Eye awards. We would love to hear from the NGOs on how they propose the State deploy transformational projects that can elevate all Sarawakians and lift per capita income across the board if not through hydroelectric projects?" added Torstein.
SOURCE Sarawak Energy