Sunday, 6 December 2009

Court battle looms over coal plant

As reported HERE on Sun, Dec 6, 2009

Ansari_Abdullah1 KOTA KINABALU: It’s supposed to be a clean coal power plant for oil-rich Sabah. However, even before it can get off the ground, more dirt is sticking to it than was envisaged.

A looming court battle threatens to spill even more dirt over federal-state administrative matters that transpired 30 years ago with Kuala Lumpur regarding the land where it will be sited.

The latest salvo fired against the project has come from the Parti Keadilan Rakyat supreme council member Haji Ansari Abdullah (picture) who hopes to regain the land grabbed by Federal Land Development Authority and give it back to poor Sabahans.

Ansari claims the land where the plant is to be sited was originally meant for the poor, but was turned into a commercial plantation by Felda.

“Some 200,000 hectres of state land in Lahad Datu was given to the Felda under an agreement signed on Dec 4, 1979,” said Ansari, brandishing the agreement. “It’s all here.”

According to the agreement the land in Tunku, Lahad was granted for Felda to develop a settlement scheme for some 13,000 poor Sabah families to help wrench them out of poverty.

“But after 30 years, Felda turned it into a commercial plantation. It is now known as Bandar Sahabat. To make matters worse, the government now want to build a coal-fired power plant (there),” Ansari said.

He warned that PKR was prepared to take the matter to the courts to stop the government from building the plant.

PKR Sabah legal bureau chaired by senior Datuk Chau Chin Tang will be holding a meeting here next week to discuss the matter, he added.

Ansari explained that under the agreement signed by the then Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh, the State Government indicated that the land was to be used to help the poor as a way to pull them out from abject of poverty.

“But what has happened now is against the letter and spirit of the agreement. As a result (of this) the people for whom it was intended for to be taken as settlers remain poor,” he said.

Ansari, who is also a senior practicing lawyer in Sabah, said legal action is being planned against the Sabah Electricity Board Sdn Bhd and Felda. PKR Sabah will be identifying individuals to file the court action.

PKR Sabah’s move comes as a boost to the non-governmental organisations’ effort to stop the building of the plant.

Several organisations have banned together to pressure the government to scrap the project due to its environmental impact and to keep in sync with global efforts to curb carbon emissions.

Among those opposing the building of the multi-million ringgit plant are the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) and Green Surf, who among others claimed that the terms of reference of the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the plant was filled with pre-determined and conclusive statements without scientific backing or facts and figures.

They also claimed that it is substandard and totally unacceptable as it ignores the long-term impact of the coal plant’s emission into the pristine Darval Bay.

The plan has also drawn controversy over the way it was presented. Critics say that it is based on climate conditions in the Tawau district, where it was initially sited. The new site for the proposed RM1.2 billion power plant is in Tungku, some 200 kilometres away.

Darval Bay falls within the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) which Malaysia recently pledged to conserve.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak attended the CTI summit in May and pledged US1million for its protection.

Ansari said that the court action would be PKR Sabah contribution to the effort to stop Sabah turning from `green to black’ because of the coal-fired power plant.

Bandar Sahabat, he claimed is now like a State within a state, guarded by its own policemen.

“Should the plant be built, it will destroy Sabah’s image as a green and beautiful state which is known worldwide,” he said. -

No comments: