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By Ling Hui
KUCHING, Oct 7: The Sarawak government has handed over 32 cheques totaling RM19.2 million in compensation to 24 landowners for acquiring their lands for Phase 1 of the ‘Matang High-Level Reservoir and Associated Pipelines to Improve Water Supply to Northern Kuching Areas’ project.
The entire project, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industry Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said, incurred a total land acquisition cost of RM24.6 million, borne by the State government.
Emphasising that the Sarawak government will never take lands for free, he said any lands to be acquired will be assessed based on existing provisions in the Sarawak Land Code (Chapter 81) and Article 13 of the Federal Constitution.
“First, no one person can be deprived of his property except in accordance with the law. Second, no law can provide for the forcible taking or use of property without adequate compensation.
“Thus, all lands taken back will be given compensation based on an assessment by the Sarawak Land and Survey Department.
“The compensation rate is assessed accordingly with crops, building structure and land size based on the current market values,” he said during the handover of compensation cheques in a local hotel here today. His text-of-speech was read by his Assistant Minister Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais.
Awang Tengah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said the handover ceremony today proved the people’s support and understanding of the Sarawak government’s wishes to develop the State’s infrastructure and utilities provisions for the betterment of the future.
In fact, the Matang High-level Water Reservoir project will involve the construction of a 100ml mid-level water reservoir, a second 9ml upper-level water reservoir, upgrading of the booster pump station in Matang and Batu Kitang, piping works and other related works.
“This project has been carefully planned to meet the increasing demand for water supply in the Kuching Division, especially in the North Kuching area including Santubong, Buntal, Bandar Baru Semariang, Petra Jaya, Kpg Rampangi, Pasir Pandak, Demak Laut, Kpg Bako, Muara Tebas, and Port Senari.
“In addition to improving the existing water supply system, the project is also expected to boost the socioeconomic status of the local community and catalyse more sustainable economic growth,” said Awang Tengah.
With that, he thanked the related landowners for providing their undivided cooperation to the Sarawak government throughout the entire land acquisition process. — DayakDaily