Sarawak Energy defends Murum hydropower resettlement plan

Sarawak Energy has issued a statement regarding the development of its 944-MW Murum hydropower plant following “the many statements, rumors and commentaries” made by a number of outlets about the project’s Resettlement Action Plan (RAP).

The company said some non-governmental organizations are exploiting the confusion and have “instigated the communities to lobby for additional compensation packages that are unrealistic, unachievable and in contradiction” to Murum‘s development.

Sarawak Energy maintains that the offers made in the RAP are fair, noting they were designed using international standards like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

Development of the plan was also subject to observation by the state government and project regulators.

According to Sarawak documents, each household in affected areas will receive compensation worth about US$190,000 dollars. Included in the package are free housing, utilities, schools, medical assistance, household goods, community buildings and agricultural land.

The Malaysian government will complement the compensation package with a support program of its own. The plan will extend through 2020 and will have a significant economic impact on its recipients, Sarawak said.

“Indigenous communities affected by Murum are currently living well below the poverty line, and the state government wants all Sarakians to live above the poverty line,” CEO Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said. “Why shouldn’t Sarawakians be able to taste the fruits of development enjoyed by citizens of the more developed nations?”

Hydroelectric development has been identified as a key driver in Malaysia’s growth, with more than 6,400 MW of installed capacity being developed as part of the country’s Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative.

The company said delays or controversy could harm other projects moving in the future.

“Demands to halt the hydropower projects would diminish the state’s ability to invest on the developments that Sarawakians want,” the company said.

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