Villagers unconvinced by TNB promise

 

RAWANG: A concession by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to consider an alternative route for power lines away from Kampung Sungai Terentang is being met with scepticism by villagers.

The route proposed by an independent consultant hired by the state could amicably break the longstanding deadlock between the villagers and TNB.

But villagers who said they have been let down by top political leaders’ and TNB’s broken promises in the past six years are looking for assurance from the prime minister.

“Unless (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) himself guarantees that TNB will not be allowed to take away our land to make way for the high-tension cable, our minds will never be at peace,” said village chief Goh Ah Kow.

The 54-year-old said former Energy, Water and Communication Minister Tun Lim Keng Yaik had announced in 2007 that TNB would relocate the 275kV transmission lines if the state government provided land for the alternative route.

“But when the current state government agreed to provide the land, TNB remained adamant at building the power lines through our village,” said Goh.

Villagers have protested vehemently against the project as a primary school, a maternity and child clinic, and a kindergarten expected to be completed next January are located only 20-25 metres from TNB’s proposed transmission line.

Houses around this temporary transmission pole would have to be demolished if TNB is allowed to proceed with its Central Area Reinforcement project.

Pregnant women, infants and children are the groups most vulnerable to magnetic fields from high-voltage transmission lines, according to the International Health Research Association.

In addition, at least 51 homes in the Chinese New Village would have to be demolished if TNB is allowed to proceed with the original route for the 59km Central Area Reinforcement (CAR) project to reinforce power supply to Kuala Lumpur.

Tee Keot Cheong, 62, is one of the families that have been living with the fear of being relocated since 2005.

“We’re not interested in monetary compensation. I have been living in this village for more than 30 years, this is where I want to stay,” Tee told Selangor Times.

TNB general manager (asset development department delivery unit) Faezah Ahmed had claimed on Dec 1 that the stalled project must be completed as soon as possible to prevent major blackouts in Peninsular Malaysia.

However, TNB had finally agreed to study an alternative route proposed by independent consultant Aecom New Zealand Pty Ltd after a meeting with the Selangor government last Friday.

Aecom had suggested aligning the power lines along the 40-metre-wide Rawang Highway using existing road reserves. This route is estimated to cost RM17.5 million, a million cheaper than the RM18.6 million for TNB’s original proposed route.

TNB had also promised not to resume construction at the village for a month until its representatives carried out a detailed study on the alternative route with Aecom, the Selayang Municipal Council, Gombak Land Office, and state representatives.

Its previous attempts to carry out construction work at the Chinese New Village, most recently on Dec 1, had resulted in standoffs with villagers.

Rawang assemblyperson Gan Pei Nei said the joint survey on the alternative route is expected to be completed and presented at the Selangor Economic Action Council two weeks from now.

Gan noted that this issue would not have arisen at all in advanced countries like Australia, where high-tension cables are strictly prohibited from passing through highly populated areas, including residential areas, and school and hospital zones.

Villager Chang Ping Chow, 73, hopes TNB will heed the people’s concerns and reroute the 275kV transmission lines.

Chang used to operate the only kindergarten in the village with his daughter. However, the number of children enrolling has declined over the years due to the debacle over the high-tension cable. They closed the pre-school last year.

“We used to have over 200 students … The people are worried about the potential health impact of living near the high-tension cables.

“We’re not against development or trying to be difficult. We just want to be able to live healthily,” said Chang.

Selangor Times  Writer: Gan Pei Ling
Published: Fri, 16 Dec 2011

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: