|Semban village is clearly far away from the dam's reservoir area-why evacuate them?|
|Semban (395m)is much higher than the dam (62m).|
In the course of making the Bengoh film we found that there are gross irregularities in the land acquisition around the dam area. If the dam must be built the following irregularities are observed:
* Semban which is not near to the dam-it is miles away and hundreds of feet above the dam, is still required to be evacuated-why?
* The NCR lands of the other 3 villages-Bojong Pain, Taba Sait, Rejoi extend all the ways up to the top of the mountain and even over the other side; Much of these lands are also beyond the dam area-why should the 3 villages evacuate from their own NCR lands?
* The Bengoh dam is built to a capacity of supplying 2000mil litres/day -much over the 600mil litres/day requirement of Kuching. The excess capacity had perhaps been seen as a possibility to release some of the water for electricity generation-as publicly claimed by the government officials. So: why overbuild the dam and encroach into the Bidayuh's lands more than necessary?
|The natives had already mapped out their NCR lands!|
If the government think that the village folks don't see these irregularities they must be dead wrong. Most of the villages had started to build new homes on the other side of the hill to the dam-which are still their NCR lands-including their agricultural land, communal lands and their forest reserves. It can be seen that this is very generous for the villages to make way to the dam which supply water to other people in Kuching, not to them!
From this perspective the order to remove the whole lot of the 4 villages from outside the dam area reflect a land grab conspiracy from the state government-who may want to use the land for free to develop tourism and other related developments around the dam. The Bengoh folks can give up some of their lands for building a water reservoir for public consumption-and they should be appropriately compensated. But why should the Bengoh folks give up their lands for greed when more than necessary lands are also targeted?
Similar pattern of land grabs are evident in the land acquisition of Bakun and other dams. But over in Bakun some villagers also noticed this irregularity and only moved higher than the dam but still within their NCR lands. The brave and smart village chief Bato Bagi who just passed away was the one who brought his people to Naah Jelei instead of to government resettlement area in Sg Asap. While the Sg Asap folks are still clamouring for more lands than the small 3 acres/family compensation land, the Naah Jelei folks did not lost much of their NCR lands even after Bakun gobbled up a big chunk of them!