Village chiefs lodge police report over land encroachment


WE WANT OUR RIGHTS ON OUR LAND: The 22 village chiefs from Ensebang/Melikin area in Balai Ringin pose with Alex (fi fth left) in front of Sg. Maong Police Station after lodging a report at the commercial crime unit yesterday.

KUCHING: A group of 22 dissatisfied village chiefs from Ensebang/Melikin area in Balai Ringin whose lands had been encroached by logging, plantation and sand extraction companies are now seeking help from government authorities to stop the violation.

Yesterday, led by TR Alex Libau, they lodged a police report on the intrusion at the commercial crime unit of Sg Maong police station.

When met by The Borneo Post, Alex said the report was made against six companies who started their ‘robbing’ activities before the recent Chinese New Year celebration.

To make matters worse, Alex claimed, the village folks were labelled as ‘outsiders’ by the companies.

“This has to be stopped at once. We are defending all that belong to us but they are taking everything against our will,” he said.

Alex, who is also the chairman of the Ensebang /Melikin development committee, said the companies had been granted Provisional Lease which had made them ‘powerful enough to ransack the land’.

He identifi ed the affected areas as 7,300 hectares (18,038 acres) located between Sg Kerangan and Sg Ensebang Baru at Melikin district and another 1,250 hectares (3,088 acres) at Balai Ringin area.

“They should consult us as we are the landowners.All the affected villagers are totally dissatisfi ed over the intrusion of the land,” he said.

He also said they were never consulted and not given any compensation and even if they did receive some compensation, the amount was way below the rightful amount.

Alex also alleged that the companies had felled and taken a large amount of trees and intruded into their ‘Pemakai Menua’ and ‘Pulau Galau’.

“Therefore, we strongly demand that the companies also pay compensation for what they have taken from the area and the amount must be fair,” Alex said.

On Jan 2, the same group lodged a report at Serian police station on sand extraction at Ensebang river.

The report, which was published on Jan 3 (The Borneo Post) also alleged that the company used certain chemicals to process the sand, which were then drained into the river.

The unknown chemicals had caused skin reaction such as itchiness to residents of the four affected villages – Kampung Ensebang Pelaik A, Kampung Enebang Pelaik B, Ensebang Kuari Baru and Ensebang Padang Bilon.

“They are hiding behind the licence to dig land for pond construction but it was found out that they misused the licence to extract sand,” said Alex.

Although Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) had sent a team to investigate the matter, he said no action had been taken or word had been heard from them.

He claimed to have pictures to prove that NREB personnel had visited the site. He also said a complaint was lodged with NREB in August last year.

Meanwhile, Balai Ringin assemblyman Snowdan Lawan shared similar views with Alex.

“We know that they are only licensed to extract soil from the site and not sand,” said Snowdan.

He also hoped that NREB would take stern and swift action against the alleged company as soon as possible.